Staff Editorial: United States must cease war crimes against Central American migrants

As recently as Sunday Nov. 25, the United States government has used overly extreme measures, such as tear gas, against Central American migrants seeking asylum on American soil. Not only should these violent crimes against civilians end, but the U.S. government must also face responsibility for choosing to proceed in such an unnecessarily intense manner.

Many chemical weapons have been banned in combat since 1993 due to its terrorizing application, director of nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association Kelsey Davenport told The Washington Post. 

Many of the civilians targeted by the tear gas included women and children, some merely infants. While the immediately obvious detrimental effects of tear gas are well documented, there is not much research on the long-term toll it could take on young bodies, according to The Washington Post

It is entirely possible the U.S. government has condemned these children to years of physical impairment because of their hastiness of punishing the group of asylum-seeking migrants. It is too soon, however, to tell exactly what the consequences will be. 

President Donald Trump supported using tear gas, claiming it was “deployed in response to ‘tremendous violence’ during confrontation with authorities,” according to The Washington Post

This statement, however, contradicts a statement from Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan who claims his agents “did not suffer serious injuries,” as reported by The Washington Post. 

It’s hard to say that a group of beleaguered asylum-seekers trying to peacefully cross the border of one of the most powerful countries in the world represents a drastic threat. 

In the end, it did not appear to be a violent interaction and there was no valid reason to use tear gas on civilians legally seeking asylum in the U.S. With virtually no research on the long-term effects on children this young, utilizing chemical weapons was uncalled for and equivalent to a war crime. 

Hopefully in the coming weeks, the U.S. government will accept the consequences of attacking civilians with unnecessarily strong force and attempt to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.