Customs and Border Patrol agents were pelted with rocks and bottles during a clash with an unruly mob of Mexicans trying to cross illegally into California on Sunday, NBC 7 San Diego reports
"They had their phones out, so this group was out to spark an incident. That's what they wanted to do," Border Patrol Union representative Gabriel Pacheco told the television station.
He said Border Patrol agents tried to stop about 150 Mexican nationals as they poured over the border in the Tijuana River Channel, about a quarter-mile from the San Ysidro Port of Entry, a district in south San Diego.
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A lone Border Patrol agent ordered the mob to stop, but was ignored.
Even with reinforcements, the outnumbered agents were forced to fire a pepper ball launcher, but it didn't have any effect, Pacheco said. Several agents were hit in their arms and legs and one was hit with a full water bottle, he said.
The agents used "intermediate use-of-force" devices, and the group eventually retreated back to the Mexican side of the border. No one was arrested or seriously injured, Pacheco said.
The incident raised concerns among advocates on both sides of the immigration debate as well as Border Patrol representatives, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported
"If it was a protest, it was a really stupid way to go about it because there were individuals who started throwing rocks and other projectiles," said Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council.
"It’s not the right venue; agents do not enact legislation, don't write laws or write polices. If protesters want to address Congress and try to change laws, so be it," he told the Union-Tribune.
Border security advocates were on edge Monday about the incident.
"Obviously, these attempted mass crossings and attacks on our border agents show that our border is not secure," said Jeff Schwilk, of the San Diegans for Secure Borders Coalition.
"All the talk in Washington this year of another amnesty for 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants is just encouraging more desperate foreigners to enter our country illegally."
On Monday, a group of members of Congress sent a letter to the agency asking for more clarity regarding use-of-force policies.
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