Border Patrol agents allegedly fired rubber bullets at families enjoying a peaceful Sunday swim in the Rio Grande in Juarez over the weekend, according to a report from El Paso NBC affiliate KTSM.
The outlet reports that the families were swimming near the Border Barrier in Sunland Park when the Border Patrol agents opened fire, allegedly after a guard warned one swimmer he was swimming too close to the U.S.-controlled American Dam. 20 to 30 agents reportedly then swarmed the area and shot rubber bullets into the crowd, which included families with small children, after some of the swimmers protested. At least two men were hit, according to reports.
Bystanders said the agents fired at least 12 rubber bullets, according to KTSM.
Rubber bullets are technically “non-lethal,” but they can cause serious injury and bodily harm, particularly if shot indiscriminately into a crowd. A 2000 study out of Israel found that inaccuracy in aim could lead to “substantial mortality, morbidity, and disability,” if bullets managed to hit protesters in vulnerable areas like the head or neck.
In December, Border Patrol agents fired rubber bullets and tear gas at migrants staging a protest at the border near California’s San Ysidro border crossing. There were quite a few small children among them: