Last time the U.S. border patrol resorted to tear gas to fend off an avalanche of migrants trying to break through the fence in November, it sparked a massive backlash after videos and photos of women and children as young as three coughing and fleeing in disarray went viral.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a statement that the gas was aimed upwind of people throwing rocks on the Mexican side who obstructed agents from helping the children being passed over razor wire.
The migrants said they were part of the caravan of people from Central America who arrived at the border over the last couple of months, escalating what had already been a strained border security regime. "Border Patrol agents witnessed members of the group attempt to lift toddler sized children up and over the concertina wire and (have) difficulty accomplishing the task in a safe manner", a news release US authorities states.
The agency said the tear gas dispersed the rock-throwers, while most of the people who tried to burrow into the USA squirreled through the hole back into Mexico.
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Al Jazeera's Manuel Rapelo, reporting from Tijuana, said central American asylum seekers were preparing to jump the wall.
Border Patrol also used smoke devices and pepper spray on the migrants.
In a previous incident, U.S. agents launched tear gas across the border after some migrants tried to breach the border following a peaceful march in Tijuana on November 26.
"Border Patrol agents witnessed members of the group attempt to lift toddler sized children up and over the concertina wire and having difficulty accomplishing the task in a safe manner". The AP journalist also saw plastic pellets fired by US agents. It has been a constant target of President Donald Trump, who referred to it frequently in the run-up to United States midterm elections in November.
The incident comes on the heels of another recent event at the border in which hundreds of migrants tried to rush the border, forcing the hours-long closure of the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
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The agency apprehended 25 people, including two minors, the release said.
The migrant caravan left Central America in October and travelled 4,300km (2,600 miles) to Tijuana in the hope of reaching the U.S. and requesting asylum.
Others tried to enter the United States by going over or under the fence.
President Trump is now locked in a fight with congressional Democrats over funding for the border wall that he wants to build.
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Chris Hogben, from the NCA, said its work with French colleagues had resulted in dozens of attempted crossings being prevented. The spike over the Christmas period is "deeply concerning", the UK Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said.