Democrats in Congress are demanding an investigation into the use a tear gas against a migrant caravan, but experts say it's a tactic that's been used for decades.
Former Border Patrol Chief Victor Manjarrez served at the San Ysidro Port, and said they used gas to break up crowds that were much larger than this caravan.
"I remember in the early 90s, in that same area, they would use gas to get them out of there," he explains. "This isn’t new. It doesn’t get used frequently, but it's a tool in the arsenal."
Congressman Eliot Engel, who is the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, fired off a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling on the Department to provide Congress with a full account of the events and its response to the Mexican government’s request for a full investigation.
"I was deeply disturbed by images and videos from this past Sunday of asylum seekers being sprayed with tear gas by U.S. officials at the U.S. - Mexico border. I understand from press reports that the Mexican Foreign Ministry has presented the State Department with a diplomatic note calling for a full investigation into non-lethal weapons directed toward Mexican territory. I write today to request that you provide the House Committee on Foreign Affairs with both a full accounting of Sunday’s events and your response to the Mexican government’s request for a full investigation," the letter reads.
Congressman Engel (D-NY) is far from the only democrat enraged by the use of tear gas, but it's a tactic that dates back to well before the Trump White House.
Numbers from Customs Border Protection show that it used tear gas 79 times from FY 2012 to FY 2016. There were 29 tear gas incidents in FY 2018, which ended in September, according to another report out this week.
Manjarrez, who is now a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, says the use of gas was effective.
"If it doesn’t clear an entire mass, it reduces that mass significantly. All of a sudden, law enforcement looks like it has overwhelming numbers. That in itself provides a deterrence affect."
In an appearance on Fox and Friends, Senator Marco Rubio said, while the images of women and children running for cover is heart-wrenching, the use of tear gas was warranted.
"What they didn’t take pictures of was the hundreds and hundreds of people who were not women and not children who were throwing rocks and bottles at law enforcement."