American authorities fired tear gas across the border into Mexico during a dangerous and chaotic situation in the early hours of 2019, officals say. Customs and Border Protection officials say agents used pepper spray and tear gas early Tuesday as a group of around 150 migrants tried to get over—and under—the border fence between Tijuana and San Diego, the New York Times reports. The agency says it saw members of the group try "to lift toddler-sized children up and over the concertina wire." It says it fired the gas after migrants began throwing rocks over the fence at officers. Agency spokesman Andrew Meehan says that after rocks were involved, it became "an issue of safety for the officers and frankly safety of the migrants."
"No agents witnessed any of the migrants at the fence line, including children, experiencing effects of the chemical agents, which were targeted at the rock throwers further away," the agency said in a statement. An AP photographer, however, has a conflicting version of events. The photographer says three volleys of tear gas were fired, affecting women, children—and journalists. The photographer did not see rocks being thrown until after CBP agents had fired tear gas. The agency says after the tear gas was fired, most of the migrants fled the area. Around 25 migrants who made it across the border, including two teenagers, were detained. (Tear gas was deployed in the same area in November after migrants tried to breach the fence.)