Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday denied allegations that Border Patrol agents were whipping Haitian migrants as they attempted to illegally enter the United State. By Tuesday, however, he appeared to change his mind, saying he was “horrified” by what he saw.
Photos and video published Sunday and picked up by various news outlets alleged that the agents were “whipping” Haitians. Mayorkas denied those allegations to reporters in Del Rio, Texas, on Monday, according to the New York Post. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz also denied that whips were used on the migrants.
“Mayorkas and Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz told reporters in Del Rio, Texas Monday that they saw nothing obviously wrong with how the agents acted based on initial viewings of the images and footage. Mayorkas explained that agents use long reins — not whips — to control their horses, while Ortiz cited the difficulty in distinguishing migrants from smugglers as people move back and forth near the river,” the Post reported. “Ortiz added he would investigate the agents’ actions to make sure nothing ‘unacceptable’ took place.”
On Tuesday, however, Mayorkas appeared to shift toward believing the allegations, saying he was “horrified” by what he saw.
“I was horrified by what I saw,” Mayorkas said on CNN’s “New Day.” “I’m going to let the investigation run its course. But the pictures that I observed troubled me profoundly. That defies all of the values that we seek to instill in our people.”
Mayorkas defended the use of horse patrols along the border but said the images and videos defy “all of the values that we seek to instill in our people”
“I saw the values that we do instill in our people in exhibition when I visited under the bridge and saw them work with the American Red Cross, the Department of Health and Human Services, World Central Kitchen, in addressing the needs of a vulnerable population of migrants under the bridge in Del Rio,” he said on CNN. “That reflects who we are, and any mistreatment or abuse of an individual defies … our values and who we are and what we stand for.”
While Mayorkas appears to have shifted on the reports, Border patrol agents told various reporters that the photos and videos show reins, not whips. The Daily Wire reported that one Border Patrol agent told Fox News digital editor Peter Hasson that agents on horseback “do not carry whips” and that the pictures show reins.
“BP does an excellent job when it comes to use of force training,” the agent added. “There is no way a horse patrol unit would be whipping aliens. Whips are not issued or authorized for use.”
Another agent told Townhall’s Julio Rosas 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…We are not aware of anyone being struck with the reins.”
Reins for western tack, or gear, aren’t always clasped like they are for English riding. The reins hang loose on either side of the horse’s neck, so if a horse turns quickly, the length of smooth leather will naturally fly out to the side, as it appears in those photos. Riders will sometimes use that length to get the horse to run faster. The videos that circulated on Sunday did not show agents whipping migrants. They can be seen spinning the extra reins to keep migrants from getting close to the horses, as Ortiz explained, but not actually whipping them in the manner alleged by other media outlets.
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