Email Shows Sec. Mayorkas Was Alerted Migrants Were Not Whipped By Border Patrol
WASHINGTON, D.C. - May 4: Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas responds to lawmakers questions during a senate subcommittee hearing on homeland security at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. on May 4, 2022. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Fox News reporter Bill Melugin published an email on Wednesday that he said was delivered to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, alerting him prior to a major press conference that Border Patrol agents had never whipped migrants.

The email, which Melugin also shared on Twitter, showed that Mayorkas had been provided with a statement from photographer Paul Ratje — who took the photos others used to claim that Border Patrol agents had been whipping migrants — prior to the press conference at which he referred to the imagery as “horrifying.”

“NEW: Email reveals DHS Secretary Mayorkas was alerted by DHS’ top public affairs official that the ‘whipping’ narrative behind horseback BP photos wasn’t true, but at a WH press conference 2.5 hours later, he didn’t refute the narrative, instead calling the images ‘horrifying.'”

The email quoted Ratje as saying that he had never seen Border Patrol agents whip anyone.

“Some of the Haitian men started running, trying to go around the horses,” Ratje said at the time. “I’ve never seen them whip anyone. He was swinging it, but it can be misconstrued when you’re looking at the picture.”

Melugin went on to note that the email, which went to Mayorkas and several others by DHS public affairs assistant secretary Marsha Espinosa, was sent before the press conference — but Mayorkas adopted the same tone that had already been taken by President Joe Biden. “It was sent hours after President Biden falsely accused the agents of ‘strapping’ migrants and promised they would ‘pay,’ and hours before Mayorkas’ presser,” he tweeted.

The email, Melugin said, was initially obtained by The Heritage Foundation pursuant to a FOIA request. “They filed a Freedom of Information Act request with DHS in March, seeking communications about the ‘whipping’ incident. DHS didn’t produce the documents, so Heritage sued in June, & last week, DHS turned over an initial batch of emails.”

Melugin also noted that, prior to publishing the email and his report, he had reached out to DHS for comment — and “gave them two full days” to offer up a response — but no one from Homeland Security had offered any comment.

Just hours after the email was sent, Mayorkas spoke to reporters about the incident, promising not to “prejudge the facts” and saying, “The images horrified us in terms of what they suggest and what they conjure up. In terms of not only our nation’s history, but unfortunately the fact that that page of history has not been turned entirely.”

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