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Biden Administration Will Investigate Border Patrol's Use Of Horse Reins Against Haitian Migrants

Migrants collecting food try to evade law enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border
A U.S. law enforcement officer on horseback chases migrants returning to the United States after buying food in Mexico, as seen from Ciudad Acuna, Mexico September 19, 2021. Picture taken September 19, 2021. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Monday his department will run an investigation into photos and a video going viral on social media that appear to show border patrol officers on horseback using horse reins to threaten Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas.

The video and images were captured on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande near the Del Rio International Bridge, where thousands of migrants — mostly from Haiti — are camped out.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Border and Immigration News Desk, including the Catena Foundation and Texas Mutual Insurance Company.

At a press conference Monday, Border Patrol Chief, Raul L. Ortiz said agents were on horseback to assess the people crossing the river.

“So it's important that those Border Patrol agents maintain a level of security for both themselves and for the migrant population,"

Mayorkas pointed out that agents just use long reins to handle the horses.

“But we are going to investigate the facts to ensure that the situation is as we understand it to be and if it's anything different, we will respond accordingly,” he said.

Ortiz said he’s confident that agents were just trying to maintain control of the horses.

"I don't think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate," said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Monday.
"I don't have the full context. I can't imagine what context would make that appropriate."

Related: Hope And Despair In Del Rio As Biden Administration Begins Expelling Migrants From Massive Border Encampment

The Biden administration has continued a Trump era policy of expelling migrants, sending them on flights back to their home countries without the chance to seek asylum. The first flights landed in Haiti on Sunday via San Antonio International Airport. Agencies are also sending migrants to other ports of entry to process them faster. So far, they’ve relocated about 6,500 people from the encampment.

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Carolina Cuellar reports for Texas Public Radio from the city of McAllen where she covers business and border issues. Her position is made possible by Report For America — a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
As TPR's news director, Katz leads the organization’s news and journalism efforts, overseeing the newsroom’s day-to-day management and the development of a strategic vision for the news division. He also serves on the organization’s executive leadership team.