SACRAMENTO — The images of Central and South American migrants trying to rush the border and cross into the United States Sunday have been harrowing to watch.
Legal observers were going to San Diego from Sacramento just to observe American protesters on the U.S. side of the border.
“There was shrieking, people were screaming. We heard screams from the other side,” said Elizabeth Kim.
Chaotic as that sounds, Kim is used to the environment she described Monday for FOX40. As president of the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, her job is to be a legal observer at large demonstrations, which sometimes get out of hand.
But what she experienced Sunday at the U.S.-Mexico border was intense, even for her.
“We have heard some shots,” Kim could be heard saying in video she captured at the border. “These border patrols are firing at somebody on the other side of that border.”
What Kim could not see were hundreds of migrants trying to bypass border security and cross from Tijuana, Mexico into the U.S.
As they rushed the port of entry they were met with tear gas and rubber bullets from border patrol agents.
“Officers looked like they were aiming their weapons through the wall,” Kim said.
What she saw disturbed Kim. As a legal observer, she questioned whether the border patrol’s methods were appropriate or even legal under international law.
“This form of scare tactic to dissuade children and women and families coming to the border seeking political asylum is just tragic,” she said.
“It’s inevitable, you have people who have been asserting some kind of a right to cross the U.S. border and clearly that right does not exist,” said criminal justice expert John McGuinness. “The likely result, I think, is some level of force being used by those seeking to enter the U.S. That has to be met with a reasonable amount of force to keep that from happening.”
McGuinness said the rush of migrants trying to make an illegal border crossing left officers little choice.
“The average American citizen is inclined to believe and understand and have compassion for people coming here, looking for a better life but it’s got to be done the right way,” McGuinness said.
Despite the tense way things played out Sunday morning, little has changed. Thousands of migrants still wait just beyond the border, many women and children, for a chance to file an asylum claim and legally enter the United States.
Kim says often during large protests if one person starts running mob mentality kicks in and dozens, if not hundreds, blindly follow. Seeing migrants all rushing the border hours later, Kim says that may have been what happened there.