Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that a probe into the actions of mounted Border Patrol agents confronting mostly Haitian asylum-seekers who crossed the southern border illegally would conclude quickly and be made public.
Mayorkas made the comments at a Sept. 24 White House press briefing, in which he said the agents involved in the incident had been reassigned to administrative duties and horse patrols have been suspended in the area.
Photographs and video surfaced earlier in the week showing Border Patrol officers on horseback riding close to and grabbing at illegal immigrants in the Del Rio, Texas, region.
Commenting on the incident, Mayorkas said the “entire nation saw horrifying images that do not reflect who we are, who we aspire to be, or the integrity and values of our truly heroic personnel in the Department of Homeland Security,” adding that “the department does not tolerate any mistreatment of any migrant and will not tolerate any violation of its values, principles, and ethics.”
At the same time, Mayorkas said he would not “prejudge the facts” nor “impair the integrity of the investigative process,” which will take its course and produce results that would be made public.
A top Border Patrol union official, Brandon Judd, told The Epoch Times this week that agents were not whipping their reins at the illegal immigrants, a claim made by some of those commenting on the images.
“Agents have to keep the migrants away from the horses for their own protection. And so they will use the reins, to twirl the reins, so that they will stay away from the horses. But they do not use those reins to lash out, to try to strike people. Those agents did not use those reins in any way, shape, or form to try to strike anybody,” he said, adding that horses are used as a “deterrent technique” to prevent people from entering the country illegally.
A photographer who captured images of Border Patrol agents on horseback near an influx of Haitians who illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border said he didn’t see the agents whip anyone.
“Some of the Haitian men started running, trying to go around the horses,” photographer Paul Ratje told local station KTSM, explaining the situation. “I’ve never seen them whip anyone,” he said. “He was swinging it, but it can be misconstrued when you’re looking at the picture.”
By Tom Ozimek