Federal law enforcement and military troops are bracing for another potential storming of the border, this time in Arizona.
Active-duty troops joined Customs and Border Protection officers at southern Arizona’s Port of Nogales and DeConcini Crossing Wednesday for a “large-scale operational readiness exercise,” or a major training session.
Troops and border forces acted out all the steps necessary to secure the port in case hundreds or even a couple thousand people try to charge through the border crossing from Mexico, like the incident that took place between Tijuana and San Diego on Nov. 25.
“The exercises were training in preparation to deal with the potential of large crowds and assaultive behavior by caravan members,” CBP said in a statement outlining the training. “They included tactical operations with the use of role players and inert smoke to simulate real world environments. This training will allow our officers to respond tactically should a situation arise.”
Ten days ago, between 500 and 1,000 of the estimated 6,000 Central American migrants gathered in Tijuana attempted to overwhelm Border Patrol agents who were manning land between crossings.
Federal agents used tear gas against attackers because they assaulted law enforcement personnel while trying to break through the barrier, San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Rodney S. Scott said after the incident.
“What I saw on the border yesterday was not people walking up to Border Patrol agents and asking to claim asylum,” Scott said. “The group immediately started throwing rocks and debris at our agents, taunting the agents, and once our agents were assaulted, and the numbers started growing, we had two or three agents at a time initially facing hundreds of people at a time, they deployed tear gas to protect themselves and to protect the border.”
A week earlier, CBP shut down the San Ysidro port due to reports some in the group were planning to run through the port of entry without being inspected, which is illegal.
However, in that incident, none of the estimated 5,800 active-duty troops that were deployed to various parts of the border were on the front lines.