The chief border patrol agent in the San Diego sector gave CNN's "New Day" an unwelcome answer for immigration activists about the "asylum seekers" who had attempted to force their way across the border only to be repulsed by agents using tear gas. "If they were truly asylum seekers, they would have just walked up and surrendered," said Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott; instead, they were "chanting, waving the Honduran flag, and throwing rocks at the agents."
"Did you feel as if you had enough agents at the border to handle this situation? Were your people overwhelmed?" asked host John Berman.
"We were able to manage this and effectively control this," said Scott. "But I want to be clear that all of our agents on a daily basis are fully employed. We had to bring in several hundred additional border patrol agents from around the country, several hundred additional CBP officers from around the country. That's affecting our operations in other areas. The fact that no one made it across the border or past our defenses, I'd say we were adequately staffed — but it was not without a cost."
Asked if it was only customs and border protection agents involved in the operation rather than military, Scott said yes, noting that the Department of Defense has only been involved in providing "logistical support."
"So at the outset of this interview, you took issue with the idea that these were people seeking asylum," Berman noted. "The caravan, though — the 5,000 to 9,000, depending on which count you believe, that is in Tijuana right now — those are people coming to the border, as far as you know, for asylum, isn't it?"
"I do not believe that is true," Scott responded. "I believe that there are definitely people in that group that are going to try to claim asylum. The vast majority of those, from what we call 'the Northern Triangle' are economic migrants, though. They do not meet the qualifications to get asylum here. They can still apply, that's a different issue. However, what I saw on the border yesterday was not people walking up to border patrol agents and asking to claim asylum. Matter of fact, one of the groups that I watched — one of the groups that several of them were arrested — they passed 10 to 15 marked border patrol units .... numerous uniformed personnel, as they were chanting, waving the Honduran flag, and throwing rocks at the agents. If they were truly asylum seekers, they would have just walked up and surrendered, and that did not take place."
Watch the video below via CNN:
Scott's descriptions of the actions of the caravan migrants at the border has been confirmed by video from the chaotic scene. A few examples:
The situation in Tijuana got so out of hand Sunday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) suspended crossings at the San Ysidro port of entry for a few hours after migrants "attempted to illegally enter the U.S. through both the northbound and southbound vehicle lanes at the port of entry itself."
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement Sunday that migrants "attempted to breach legacy fence infrastructure along the border and sought to harm CBP personnel by throwing projectiles at them."
As for Chief Patrol Agent Scott's claim that most of the over 5,000 migrants gathered in Tijuana are "economic migrants," journalist and filmmaker Ami Horowitz recently traveled to Mexico and spoke with scores of migrants and came to the same conclusion. Watch his video below: