TIJUANA, Mexico — Just after people raised their glasses to ring in the New Year, about 150 migrants gathered at a section of border wall in Tijuana to try to cross into the United States, many of them asylum seekers fed up with the long wait to have their claims processed.

On the other side, U.S. Border Patrol agents wearing camouflage and night-vision goggles and carrying assault-style rifles yelled, “Don’t jump. It’s dangerous. Get back!” in Spanish. American activists accompanying the migrants shouted at agents in English not to fire tear gas because children were present.

Several migrants tried to climb the metal wall, prompting agents to fire the first volley of tear gas. When migrants approached the wall again, authorities fired a second round and a third.

The migrants fled, screaming, crying and coughing. One mother was hysterical after briefly losing her children in the thick smoke and darkness.

“The children were crying,” said Jose Fajardo Anariba, 16, from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. “They couldn’t tolerate it.”

Tuesday’s confrontation was at least the second time in a little over a month that U.S. authorities have fired tear gas into Tijuana. The action drew sharp criticism from politicians and activists on both sides of the border and raised questions about the use of force against migrants

At a Cabinet meeting Wednesday at the White House, President Trump said the clash showed that “people tried to charge the border and couldn’t.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said tear gas, pepper spray and smoke were used to target rock throwers, not the migrants who were trying to cross. The agency said it could not help small children who were being passed over the concertina wire from getting hurt because of the rocks being thrown.

Several teenagers, wrapped in heavy jackets, blankets and rubber mats, were also put over the concertina wire.

An Associated Press photographer saw rocks thrown only after U.S. agents fired the tear gas. Customs and Border Protection said the incident would be reviewed to ensure compliance with the agency’s use-of-force policy.

The agency said 25 migrants were detained while others crawled back into Mexico through a hole under the fence. An AP photographer saw migrants put their hands up or behind their heads once they crossed the border as agents approached.

Anariba said he would try to climb the border wall again. His mother was killed in Honduras, and he has nothing in his homeland, he said.

Since a caravan of Central Americans arrived in Tijuana last month after walking, hitchhiking and taking buses across Mexico, daily apprehensions in the San Diego sector have jumped about 45 percent. Agents are now detaining about 150 migrants a day, compared with about 105 daily in 2018, authorities said.

Many of the migrants are waiting in Tijuana for a chance to apply for asylum in the U.S., but there was a backlog of more than 3,000 names before the caravan’s arrival.