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Reuters photographers captured the moment Maria Meza scrambled to help her five year old daughters escape teargas fired by US officials into Mexico on Sunday. She and hundreds of other Central American migrants were blocked by Mexican police and staged protests after US officials shut down the country's busiest border crossing for several hours.
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Some headrushed the fence. Meza told Reuters on Monday she never expected US Border Patrol to then fire gas canisters at children and families. Three canisters landed around her and her five kids.>> I was sad, scared, and I wanted to cry. That's when I grabbed my daughters and started running.
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At that moment I though I was going to die because of the gas. It wasn't right, they know we are human beings, the same as them. It wasn't right that they did that to the children.>> Her young son nearly fainted as a canister landed nearby. Meza fell into the mud before a young man pulled her up to escape.
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The US Department of Homeland Security said customs and border protection officers were struck by projectiles thrown by the migrants. Meza had come North from Honduras, joining thousands of people travelling in a caravan arriving in the Mexican border town of Tijuana. More than 5000 of them are now packed in a stadium, living in makeshift tents, after leaving violent and impoverished Central American countries.
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Since they arrived two weeks ago, tension in Tijuana has been rising. Local authorities say they've ramped up security since the caravan arrived and have arrested nearly 200 Central Americans. US President Donald Trump has taken a hardline stance against the migrants. On Monday, he urged Mexico to send them back to their home countries.