OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has taken action against horseback Border Patrol agents accused by left-leaning media figures and Democrats of using “whips” and reins to assail Haitian migrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally.
“Border Patrol agents seen on horseback confronting Haitian refugees have been removed from regular duty during an investigation into their actions, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told lawmakers Wednesday,” Newsmax reported Wednesday.
“Videos showed law enforcement officers on horseback using aggressive tactics when confronting migrants in Del Rio, Texas. Some agents appeared to be swinging long reins,” the outlet continued, though Homeland Security officials have said the agents were adhering to their training and attempting to keep the migrants away from horses so they did not get injured.
Still, Mayorkas, in testimony before the House Wednesday and the Senate on Tuesday decried the agents’ behavior, saying he was “horrified” by what he saw in the media, telling Democrats he shared their outrage while pledging to “pull no punches” in ensuring agents would be disciplined if found to have violated their training and enforcement rules.
“The individuals, during the pendency of the investigation, are not conducting law enforcement duties to interact with migrants, but rather are conducting administrative duties,” said Mayorkas, who didn’t say how many agents were being investigated.
“I want to assure you that we are addressing this with tremendous speed and tremendous force. The facts will drive the action we take,” the DHS chief said.
He added, “It will be completed in days – not weeks.”
“I was horrified by what I saw. We will let the investigation run its course, but the pictures that I observed troubled me profoundly,” Mayorkas told CNN on Tuesday. “One cannot weaponize a horse to aggressively attack a child. That is unacceptable. That is not what our policies and our training require. … We will not tolerate mistreatment.”
“I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. “I don’t have the full context. I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate.”
But Republicans pushed back, with Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., the ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, remarking that conditions along the U.S.-Mexico border are “absolutely out of control.”
“To me, it’s unbelievable what’s going on at the border,” Katko said, according to USA Today.
After President Joe Biden reversed most of his predecessor’s border and immigration enforcement policies, and while Mayorkas has been the DHS secretary, illegal migrant traffic into the U.S. along the border with Mexico has exploded.
But in House testimony, Mayorkas claimed, incredibly, that conditions along the border now are no different than they were under then-President Donald Trump.
“The border is secure. We’re executing our plan. I’ve been very clear and unequivocal in that regard,” Mayorkas told Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas. “It is no less secure than it was previously.”
Republicans pushed back on Mayorkas’ characterization, however, and noted further that under his watch, fewer agents are deployed along the border in their typical national security role because they’ve been pulled off to care for and process hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants, as USA Today noted:
In a terse exchange, Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., asked Mayorkas how many agents stationed at the border had been pulled off that duty to process Afghans coming into the USA after the military withdrawal from their home country last month.
She said agents had been removed “to process and essentially babysit” Afghans.
Mayorkas said he disagreed with Cammack’s characterization of that work before she shot back that she “didn’t ask if you disagreed” and called it “a disgrace” that agents in one of the busiest sectors had been pulled off their duty.