Border Patrol agents on horseback appeared to herd Haitian migrants attempting to enter the U.S. near Del Rio, Texas, from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, video shows.
Agents on horseback appeared to try to herd Haitian migrants back into the Rio Grande River and into Mexico, a video posted on Monday shows. The agents use long reins to control their horses, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said during a Monday press conference after a Texas Tribune reporter asked about photographs and videos appearing to show agents “whipping” migrants with the reins.
“You are assuming facts, if I may say respectfully, you are assuming facts that have not yet been determined,” Mayorkas said. “Chief Ortiz is an experienced Border Patrol agent whose ridden horses and trained others to ride horses can provide great detail on the specifics.”
Horse patrol units were deployed in response to more than 10,000 migrants, mostly Haitians, establishing a temporary camp under the Del Rio International Bridge, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said. Border officials locked down half of the area surrounding the temporary camp and are working to close the entire area.
“What I asked our horse patrol units to do yesterday is to do an assessment and find out if we had any individuals in distress and to be able to provide information and intelligence as to what the smuggling organizations were doing in and around the river,” Ortiz said.
“As was witnessed in the videos [and] some of the pictures, the migrants were going back and forth,” Ortiz added. “We do not know who are the smugglers or who are the migrants, so it’s important that those Border Patrol agents maintain a level of security for both themselves and for the migrant population as they were trafficking back and forth.”
Ortiz said Border Patrol agents are careful not to injure migrants and that the agency would look into the alleged misconduct.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration was aware of the video footage but did not have any additional information during a press conference on Monday.
“I don’t have any more information on it, so let me venture to do that, and we’ll see if there’s more to convey,” Psaki said. “I think I’ve been very clear about how horrific the footage is, I don’t have more information. As a U.S. official, I have a responsibility to get more context and information.”
Customs and Border Protection did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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