(Headline USA) Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday images of what appeared to be Border Patrol agents on horseback rounding up migrants trying to cross the southern border “horrified” him, but he stopped short of calling the new influx of migrants there a crisis.
Some media outlets, liberal members of Congress and the White House promoted a false narrative that agents were repelling border crossers with whips.
“Images of Haitian migrants being hit with whips and other forms of physical violence is completely unacceptable,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday. “This behavior must be addressed and we must provide accountability. The images turn your stomach. It must be stopped, this kind of violence.”
The portrayal of the images is a lie. A fact check from National File explained that what were described as “whips” were actually horse reins, used to control the animals but also to keep threats away from them to prevent injuries. The site reported:
A statement released by the Border Patrol thoroughly debunked the “Border officer are whipping illegal migrants” narrative, noting that “Agents use their reins for a lot of reasons. Primarily it’s used to steer the horse, but agents will also spin them sometimes to deter people from getting too close to the horse,” and “Agents also need to maintain control of their reins so they don’t lose control of the horse, which can also cause injuries to immigrants, the agents, and the horses.” The statement concluded, “We are not aware of anyone being struck with the reins.”
Nonetheless, the gaslighting Mayorkas told CNN that “any mistreatment or abuse of a migrant is unacceptable” and added, “the pictures that I’ve observed troubled me profoundly.”
But he wouldn’t explicitly say whether they reflected mistreatment or abuse, deferring instead to a promised investigation.
“That defies all of the values that we seek to instill in our people,” Mayorkas said, adding that the department will address the situation “with full force” after the investigation is complete.
The Office of Professional Responsibility is leading the investigation, and will have personnel on the ground full-time monitoring the situation in the border town of Del Rio, Texas, which has seen an influx of thousands of Haitian migrants fleeing an unstable situation in their home country and attempting to enter the U.S. through Mexico.
More than 6,000 Haitians and other migrants have been removed from an encampment in Del Rio, and Mayorkas predicted a “dramatic change” in the number of migrants there within the next two to four days as it continues the removal process.
The latest increase in migration at the border is just the latest example of failure in border control policy by Democrats and President Joe Biden.
On CNN, Mayorkas declined to call the situation a “crisis,” saying only that it’s a “heartbreaking situation” and a “tremendous challenge.”
“I by no means diminish the, the humane issue that it presents, but I want to be clear that we do have a plan to address it,” he said.
Mayorkas said 600 Homeland Security employees, including from the Coast Guard, have been brought to Del Rio. He said he has asked the Defense Department for help in what may be one of the swiftest, large-scale expulsions of migrants and refugees from the United States in decades.
Speaking from Del Rio on Monday, Mayorkas warned Haitians not to come to the U.S., noting that a temporary extension in protections from deportation for Haitians was extended through July 29, those protections no longer apply to new migrants.
“If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned. Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life,” he said.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.