Washington, DC – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Friday that Border Patrol agents accused of “whipping” migrants at the Texas border in July of 2021 will be disciplined for their actions.
CBP officials released the findings of a more than 500-page report on the investigation into the incident on July 8 and said no agents were found to have struck any of the illegal immigrants, ABC News reported.
However, the agency determined that mounted Border Patrol agents had used unnecessary force and profanity-laced threats that they would push the migrants back into the river.
“The report showed there were failures to make good decisions at multiple levels of the organization,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement.
“Failures to maintain command and control over Horse Patrol Units, lack of appropriate policies and training, and the overall chaotic nature of the situation at Del Rio at the time contributed to the incident,” Magnus continued. “Several agents engaged in unprofessional or dangerous behavior, including one instance in which an agent used denigrating and offensive language.”
He said CBP would review its disciplinary process and outlined changes – including a clarification of its chain-of-command – that would be coming to the federal law enforcement agency, ABC News reported.
CBP’s Officer of Professional Responsibility referred the findings to federal prosecutors in Texas.
The U.S. Attorney in Texas declined to bring any criminal charges against any of the agents, ABC News reported.
The National Fraternal Order of Police had filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and CBP in June for failing to produce public records associated with the investigation.
The complaint included allegations border patrol agents had been whipping people at the border were quickly proven false but the agents remain on administrative duty pending the conclusion of an investigation that should have cleared and returned them to full duty months ago.
But officials have said that was not the case.
“It took this long because they wanted to delay the inevitable because they knew they didn’t have any legitimate charges and needed time to come up with some nonsense allegations,” National Border Patrol Council Vice President Jon Anfinsen told ABC News. “The agents have due process, so now they will get a chance to respond to the allegations, a deciding official will make the decision, and then we can appeal via arbitration, if necessary.”
Four CBP agents have been on administrative duty since September of 2021.
Details about how many of the agents will face discipline and what the nature of the punishment will be have not yet been released.
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, 2021, 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
DHS 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 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 the next day.
“I was horrified by what I saw,” Mayorkas told CNN. “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.
The agents have been on desk duty for 10 months while the incident was investigated.