EDITORIAL: Storming the border

President Donald Trump on Sunday made good on his vow to prevent migrants in the so-called caravan from crashing the U.S. border — and this sent the Abolish ICE crowd searching for the pearls.

American border agents, apparently facing a slew of projectiles, fired rounds of tear gas on Sunday to disperse hundreds of Central American migrants who attempted to crash the border near Tijuana. The Wall Street Journal reported that a Mexican official noted “some 500 migrants had tried to cross the border illegally, and those who were identified would be deported immediately from Mexico.”

Nevertheless, many Democrats expressed outrage that American agents dared to enforce the integrity of our southern border.

Rep. Carolyn Mahoney, a New York Democrat, tweeted that the incident was “shameful &disgusting.” She scolded the president, saying “seeking asylum is LEGAL.” Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, also of New York, wagged her finger and insisted the “Trump administration’s asylum policies diminish America’s promise and project weakness, not strength.”

The latter is a matter of debate, but Rep. Mahoney’s social media post defies logic. Yes, migrants have a right to seek asylum, but they don’t have a right to forcibly breach our borders in an arrogant show of aggression.

Many Republicans responded that there is a precedent for using tear gas at the border: In 2013, under President Barack Obama, Border Patrol agents employed the substance against about 100 migrants who tried a similar tactic at the same point of entry.

But that was then, and this is now. Why worry about hypocrisy when you can instead try to score cheap political points with the Trump resistance?

Nobody was seriously injured on Sunday, and the situation had stabilized by Monday. The incident may even have had a preventive effect. “I learned the lesson,” a 28-year-old woman with a 10-month-old baby and 4-year-old son told the Journal, “and I’m now going to wait for asylum.”

There were reports that the Trump administration was on the verge of striking a deal with Mexico’s new president to help implement a more orderly process of adjudicating asylum claims. This would be a welcome development. The administration should also ensure that migrants seeking entrance to the United States are treated in accordance with federal statutes on asylum seekers.

In the meantime, however, American border agents are under no obligation to simply stand by when scores of migrants ignore checkpoints and attempt to illegally and forcibly enter the United States.

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