Washington, DC – The mounted U.S. Border Patrol agents featured in news footage trying to stop undocumented Haitian immigrants from crossing the Mexico-U.S. border on Sunday have been placed on desk duty over false allegations they used whips.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas initially said he supported the border patrol agents struggling to stop the influx of illegal immigrants, FOX News reported.
Mayorkas told reporters on Monday that the images being circulated depicted the reins on the horses, not whips, CNN reported.
But under extreme pressure from Democrats, the Homeland Security secretary changed his tune.
“I was horrified by what I saw,” Mayorkas told CNN on Tuesday. “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.”
He told an outraged congressional committee that the border patrol agents featured in the videos of the altercation with the Haitian migrants had been taken off the front lines, FOX News reported.
Mayorkas said the agents had been put on desk duty pending an investigation into the incident.
“We have ensured that the individuals during the pendency of the investigation are not conducting law enforcement duties to interact with migrants, but rather are conducting only administrative duties,” he said.
“The facts will drive the actions that we take,” the secretary added. “We ourselves will pull no punches and we need to conduct this investigation thoroughly, but very quickly. It will be completed in days, if not weeks.”
The secretary said that he had sent members of his department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to the border to ensure it doesn’t happen again, MSNBC reported.
The controversy erupted after Al Jazeera and Reuters released footage of mounted agents trying to push back undocumented Haitian immigrants who were illegally crossing the U.S. border near Del Rio, Texas on Sept. 19, CNN reported.
None of the photos or videos show agents using their reins to strike migrants.
The videos showed Border Patrol agents on horseback trying to stop a flood of illegal immigrants as they crossed from Mexico into the United States.
Al Jazeera reported that the migrants were actually trying to return to their families that were camping under a bridge near the entry point in Del Rio, but they had gone back to Mexico to shop for groceries and were returning to their illegal encampment when the agents tried to stop them.
The video showed the migrants completely ignored the commands of the mounted agents to turn back.
One video showed some of the men crossing over were standing behind groups of women and children for protection from the agents trying to protect the border.
At times, the scene became chaotic as Haitian immigrants tried to dodge the agents on horseback that were blocking their path.
Video showed the agents racing back and forth on their horses along the riverbank in an effort to stop the breach.
But after the videos were released to the public, there was a massive outcry by viewers who thought they were seeing whips in the hands of the law enforcement officers, CNN reported.
The chief of the U.S. Border Patrol has said agents do not carry whips, and that what was seen in the video were reins as the border patrol struggled to control their mounts along a riverbank with men, women, and children darting between them.
For all you Twitter warriors out there: these are NOT whips. And no, Border Patrol agents are NOT "whipping" people.
They are REINS… Stay with us here, like a steering wheel is used to drive a car, the reins are used to “drive” the horse.
Thanks for coming to our TED talk. pic.twitter.com/r0n2kXHqvy
— National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) (@GLFOP) September 21, 2021
Other law enforcement groups are pushing back against the false narrative as well.