Border clash with migrants spotlights use of force

Published 11-28-2018

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EL PASO, Texas (AP) - U.S. Border Patrol agents faced a choice near San Diego. Do they respond with force against a crowd of migrants that include men throwing rocks and barefoot children? And if so, what kind?

The circumstances at the San Ysidro border crossing on Sunday were exceptional. But the question facing the agents was not. It's a split-second choice more often made in the remote desert.

The agents fired tear gas. It triggered widespread outrage and rekindled complaints that the Border Patrol is too quick to use force.

Government statistics show use of force by Customs and Border Protection officers and agents is declining from a high during the 2013 budget year. There are high-profile exceptions. Still, experts say policies have improved following a major audit five years ago.

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