California assessing legal action against use of force on Mexico border

(This story has been refiled to correct typographical error in final paragraph)

FILE PHOTO: Marie Orellana, 28, (4th L) and her seven-year-old son Angel (3rd L holding flag), from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America trying to reach the United States, queue for food outside a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is assessing whether the state can take legal action over the Trump administration’s use of force against a caravan of migrants or a decision and future threats to shut the border with Mexico, he said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday.

“We have been approached by folks who have expressed complaints,” Becerra, who is the son of Mexican immigrants, said. “We are monitoring what’s occurring.”

Should California opt to take legal action, they would join a growing public protest over the implementation of President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies, including the use of tear gas against the Central American migrants at the border and the decision to separate migrant children from their parents.

California has limited jurisdiction to insert itself despite the clashes taking place on the state’s border because the federal government has sweeping control over border and immigration administration.

But Becerra suggested that if a state resident was being affected, including by shutting of the border, the state could have cause to intervene.

“I can’t act unless the rules are on our side,” Becerra, who is the son of Mexican immigrants, said.

Becerra, a Democrat and former member of Congress who helped negotiate comprehensive immigrants reform that was never passed, used his role as state attorney general to intervene on behalf of child immigrants known as Dreamers when Trump sought to revoke their legal status.

The border crisis has unfolded in the past week as thousands of migrants who have made their way north through Mexico from violent and impoverished Central American countries attempted to enter the United States to seek asylum.

On Sunday, U.S. authorities fired tear gas canisters toward migrants in Mexico - near the border crossing separating Tijuana from San Diego, California - when some rushed through border fencing into the United States.

During the melee on Sunday, U.S. authorities shut San Ysidro, the country’s busiest border crossing, for several hours.

Trump has since threatened to “permanently” close the U.S.-Mexican border if Mexico does not deport some 7,000 Central Americans gathered there.

Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Susan Thomas