- The Trump administration is currently under fire after immigration authorities used tear gas on migrants attempting to rush the US-Mexico border at the busiest port of entry over the weekend.
- But the Border Patrol also used tear gas at the border on dozens of occasions under the Obama administration.
- Since fiscal year 2012, US Customs and Border Protection has employed tear gas a total of 126 times.
- The use of tear gas by border patrol hit a 7-year high under Trump in fiscal year 2018: 29 times total.
- Under Obama, immigration authorities also used pepper spray at the border, reaching a high of 151 total instances in fiscal year 2013 alone.
The Trump administration is currently under fire after immigration authorities used tear gas on migrants attempting to rush the US-Mexico border at the busiest port of entry over the weekend.
Many have characterised this as a disproportionate response, particularly given children were present and were impacted by the gas. Critics of President Donald Trump have painted the incident as a unique, cruel aspect of his hardline approach to immigration.
But the Border Patrol also used tear gas in incidents at the border on dozens of occasions under the Obama administration, according to numbers provided to INSIDER by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
A spokesperson for CBP defended the agency’s recent actions in a statement to INSIDER, claiming it was responding to over 1,000 individuals who were part of the “so-called caravan” who “ignored law enforcement agencies in Mexico and assaulted U.S. Federal Officers and Agents assigned to respond to the situation in San Diego.”
“CBP has been preparing for weeks for events like the one on Sunday,” the spokesperson added. “We have seen the use of violence by members of this so-called caravan who have attacked law enforcement personnel in Guatemala, Mexico and now the US CBP will consider using all approved and available resources to protect travellers, caravan members and our agents and officers.”
The spokesperson said CBP “takes Sunday’s employment of use-of-force very seriously.”
Tear gas was used at the border dozens of times under Obama, but its use hit a 7-year high under Trump
The use of tear gas at the border by CBP began in 2010.
Since fiscal year 2012, CBP has employed tear gas a total of 126 times, but its use hit a 7-year high under Trump in fiscal year 2018.
Tear gas has been employed 29 times in the current fiscal year so far, according to the numbers provided to INSIDER.
Under Obama, immigration authorities also used pepper spray frequently at the border, reaching a high of 151 total instances in fiscal year 2013 alone.
Overall, CBP has used pepper spray at the border a total of 540 times since fiscal year 2012, the data shows.
‘The bottom line is that Trump is bad on immigration and Obama was bad’
Amid the backlash to the recent use of tear gas at the border, Trump supporters and some conservatives have pointed to an alleged double standard in terms Democratic reactions to and media coverage of the president’s approach to border enforcement versus his predecessor.
Immigration experts and lawyers on Monday told INSIDER there are many fair reasons to critique Obama’s immigration policies, with some adding the abuses that occurred under Obama’s watch should not be erased or forgotten. But they also said US immigration authorities have for years behaved as a “force unto themselves” and they have become even more “emboldened” with Trump in the White House.
Matthew Kolken, an immigration lawyer based in Buffalo, New York, said, “Is the Trump administration in practice worse than Obama? Yes, but we’re not talking about night and day, it’s shades of grey.”
“The bottom line is that Trump is bad on immigration and Obama was bad. Neither one of them have done any favours to immigrant communities,” Kolken told INSIDER.
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