Border clash was at least 2nd use of tear gas since November
By DANIEL OCHOA DE OLZA and JULIE WATSON
Thursday, January 3
TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Just after people raised their glasses to ring in the New Year, about 150 migrants gathered at a section of border wall in Tijuana to try to cross into the United States, many of them asylum seekers fed up with the long wait to have their claims processed.
On the other side, U.S. Border Patrol agents wearing camouflage and night-vision goggles and carrying assault-style rifles yelled, “Don’t jump. It’s dangerous. Get back!” in Spanish. American activists accompanying the migrants shouted at agents in English not to fire tear gas because children were present.
Several migrants tried to climb the metal wall, prompting agents to fire the first volley of tear gas. When migrants approached the wall again, authorities fired a second round and then a third.
The migrants fled, screaming, crying and coughing. One mother was hysterical after briefly losing her children in the thick smoke and darkness.
“The children were crying,” said Jose Fajardo Anariba, 16, from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. “They couldn’t tolerate it.”
Tuesday’s confrontation was at least the second time in a little over a month that U.S. authorities have fired tear gas into Tijuana. The action drew sharp criticism from politicians and activists on both sides of the border and raised questions about the use of force against migrants.
Instead of offering the asylum seekers protection, “border agents are firing tear gas at vulnerable families with children,” Andrea Guerrero, head of the advocacy group, Alliance San Diego, said in a statement.
At a Cabinet meeting Wednesday at the White House, President Donald Trump said the clash showed that “people tried to charge the border and couldn’t.” With a complete wall, no one could enter unless that person was a “champion pole vaulter.”
He described the border as being “like a sieve” and noted that the tear gas was “flying” to deter the migrants and added that it’s “very tough” to keep immigrants out.
Trump was making his case for $5.6 billion from Congress for a wall at the border and vowing that the partial government shutdown now in its 12th day will last “as long as it takes” to get the money.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said tear gas, pepper spray and smoke were used to target rock throwers, not the migrants who were trying to cross. The agency said it could not help small children who were being passed over the concertina wire from getting hurt because of the rocks being thrown.
Several teenagers, wrapped in heavy jackets, blankets and rubber mats, were also put over the concertina wire.
An Associated Press photographer saw rocks thrown only after U.S. agents fired the tear gas. Customs and Border Protection said the incident would be reviewed to ensure compliance with the agency’s use-of-force policy.
The agency said 25 migrants were detained while others crawled back into Mexico through a hole under the fence. An AP photographer saw migrants put their hands up or behind their heads once they crossed the border as agents approached.
Anariba said he would try to climb the border wall again. His mother was killed in Honduras, and he has nothing in his homeland, he said.
Since a caravan of Central Americans arrived in Tijuana last month after walking, hitchhiking and taking buses across Mexico, daily apprehensions in the San Diego sector have jumped about 45 percent. Agents are now detaining about 150 migrants a day, compared with about 105 daily in 2018, authorities said.
Many of the migrants are waiting in Tijuana for a chance to apply for asylum in the U.S., but there was a backlog of more than 3,000 names at the San Diego crossing before the caravan’s arrival.
A few have found jobs in Mexico and tried to settle there. But thousands are still camped in a concert hall in Tijuana, growing increasingly frustrated at the long wait to apply for asylum.
On Nov. 26, U.S. agents launched tear gas across the border after some migrants tried to breach the border following a peaceful march in Tijuana. The march was to demand U.S. authorities accelerate the asylum process.
U.S. officials are processing fewer than 100 claims a day at the San Diego crossing, the nation’s busiest.
Use of force by Customs and Border Protection has declined from a high during the 2013 budget year, when firearms were used 45 times compared with 14 times during the first 11 months of 2018, government statistics show. Since then officers have been trained to use less lethal methods such as batons, pepper spray and tear gas.
The data includes Border Patrol agents who patrol between the ports of entry and officers who police border crossings. The latest figures, which do not include this month’s incidents, also show a dramatic drop in the use of less-lethal methods compared with 2013.
Watson reported from San Diego. Associated Press Writer Colleen Long in Washington also contributed to this report.
Should children as young as 12 be sent to juvenile detention?
January 3, 2019
Author: Natalia Orendain, Ph.D. Candidate in Neuroscience, University of California, Los Angeles
Disclosure statement: Natalia Orendain receives funding from the Doris Duke Foundation, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Brain Research Institute at UCLA. Natalia is also a creative writing teacher for detained youth with the nonprofit InsideOut Writers.
Partners: University of California provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
Children under 12 will no longer be treated as criminals in the state of California when they break the law, based on a new law that went into effect on Jan. 1.
Before the law was passed, California had no minimum age for sending children to juvenile court – and that’s still true of most states. That means that in many places, children as young as six, for example, can be arrested and detained.
In Texas, Mississippi, Kansas, Colorado and other states, the minimum age is 10. Many California state legislators believe that setting a higher standard, 12 years old, will protect younger children from the dangers that come with juvenile detention. And, given that California’s juvenile justice system houses the largest number of youth in the United States and even the world, their stance may influence how other states set their standards for criminal responsibility.
I am a doctoral student studying neuroscience at UCLA. In my lab, we are examining how time spent confined in juvenile facilities affects brain development and behavior. To do so, we study a range of experiences kids encounter when confined, from the good – increased daily structure – to the terrible – assault by other youth and staff. Our study is just beginning, but previous research has shown that the majority of youth experience abuse while confined and show structural brain changes similar to individuals who have experienced lifetime trauma exposure.
What happens in juvenile detention?
Juvenile facilities function as prisons for youth. The key difference between adult prisons and juvenile facilities is that the latter advocate for rehabilitation.
That’s because young people, usually until their mid- to late 20’s, have brains that are still developing and so have the capacity for change – what scientists often refer to as “plasticity.”
Every year, over 1.3 million youth in the U.S. are arrested and 60 percent face confinement for offenses neither violent or sexual in nature, such as probation violation, status offense, drug offense or property crime.
Rehabilitative efforts can include behavior management, writing classes, religious services and even training on how to manage finances.
Despite these efforts, the experience of being detained appears to have overwhelmingly negative consequences for young people.
Research shows that the more youth are involved with the juvenile justice system – from arrest to detainment to transfer to an adult court – the higher their chances are of early death, specifically a violent one. Going to juvenile detention also increases risk for poorer life outcomes in terms of educational attainment, relationships and gainful employment. At this point, these relationships are only correlational, but have been demonstrated across many large studies.
The physical environment inside juvenile detention facilities has an industrial feel, with limited natural light. They are surrounded by chain-linked fences topped with barbed wire.
Once inside, youth are rarely in contact with their support systems, whether that be family, friends or other individuals. While some youth may have been removed from abusive situations at home, the high-threat environment of secure juvenile facilities is far from a rehabilitation-oriented setting.
Maltreatment has been documented in youth detention facilities in most states. According to one survey, about 42 percent of youth in detention are afraid of being physically attacked, 45 percent report unneeded use of force by staff and 30 percent state that staff use isolation as discipline. Isolation, particularly during development, comes with a range of negative physiological and psychological reactions and is associated with the development of mood disorders, like depression and anxiety, and psychosis.
Under such stressful conditions, even young brains would have a difficult time learning or growing. To make matters worse, most youth in the juvenile justice system have experienced early life trauma like abuse and neglect, which can compound the negative effects of these already detrimental experiences.
No ‘magic number’
The clinicians and academics who wrote a policy brief on the California bill cite developmental research, court decisions on youth sentencing and international standards on juvenile justice as the reasons to adopt the age of 12 as the minimum age at which children can be sent to juvenile detention.
However, there is no strong evidence that setting 12 as the lowest age for sending children to detention will provide major benefits. Among these sources cited by the clinicians and academics, the only specific reference to the age of 12 is from international standards set forth by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
In 2007, the committee announced 12 as the absolute minimum age of criminal responsibility, but at the same time strongly advocated for higher ages, like 14 or 16. At the time, research investigating brain development in youth was still emerging. Now, more than 10 years later, we know that experiences during all of adolescence tremendously impact brain development and behavior into adulthood.
While a systemic overhaul would be needed to address the current conditions of juvenile confinement, existing diversion programs are an avenue to affect youth of all ages. One such program is the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, founded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation more than 25 years ago.
The initiative monitors the treatment of youth in secure detention facilities and diverts youth or limits time spent confined. The initiative is implemented in over 300 counties nationwide.
Instead of placing young people in detention facilities, these initiatives promote confining them in their homes, in shelters and reporting centers. This approach has been shown to lower the number of times the youth commit crimes again – a large feat given that 70 to 80 percent of youth involved in the juvenile justice system traditionally face rearrest within three years of their release.
Rather than focusing on a specific age for juvenile detention, I believe a greater impact would come from ensuring that confinement is truly rehabilitative and developmentally appropriate for all youth.