- The Biden administration has yet to conclude an investigation they promised would take “days” concerning allegations that Border Patrol agents “whipped” Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas in September.
- Groups advocating for Haitian migrants as well as the local Border Patrol union chapter are unsatisfied with the administration’s handling of the investigation into the incident, but for different reasons.
- The organizations told the Daily Caller News Foundation what they hope will result from the probe.
Groups on opposing sides of the debate surrounding the possible conclusions of the investigation into an incident in which border agents on horseback allegedly “whipped” Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas in September are at odds with the Biden administration over the delay in the report.
Images surfaced shortly after the Sept. 19 incident appearing to show border agents using the reins of their horses to steer and encircle Haitian migrants attempting to enter the U.S. from the Rio Grande river. The long reins were interpreted by many as whips, which sparked outcry from many human rights organizations.
The administration promised to investigate what happened. On Sept. 22, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas promised that the investigation “will be completed in days, not weeks,” but it’s been nearly five months since he made the pledge and there is still no conclusion to the investigation.
Days after the incident, Vice President Kamala Harris on condemned the horseback agents’ “horrible” treatment of the Haitian migrants and supported an investigation into what occurred. President Joe Biden echoed Harris’s condemnation, promising that “there will be consequences” for the accused agents.
The accused agents were taken off the frontlines and assigned to desk duties, where they remain, meaning they’re not interacting with migrants.
The groups that spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation aired their frustrations with the handling of the investigation thus far and explained how they would feel if the report resulted in finding no wrongdoing on the Border Patrol agents’ parts.
“This is why your country’s shit, because you use your women for this!” — mounted Border Patrol officer to Haitian migrant he was riding down, as he sheltered with his family.
One of the scenes we saw on the Rio Grande. Watch our video:
— John Holman (@johnholman100) September 20, 2021
UndocuBlack Network, an advocacy group supporting black undocumented immigrants, has been outspoken on the administration’s treatment of Haitian migrants. Days after the Del Rio incident, the organization reportedly sent a complaint to DHS officer for civil rights and civil liberties Katherine Culliton-González, alleging wrongdoing by border agents, and demanding accountability.
The organization said in a statement to the DCNF it’s “not shocked” the investigation has yet to come to a conclusion, blaming the administration for failing to address the trials black migrants face.
“The Biden Administration, just like its predecessors, refuses to acknowledge, let alone prioritize the plight of Black immigrants,” UndocuBlack Network said in their statement. “Del Rio was one incident among countless instances of white supremacist violence inflicted upon Black migrants at the hands of CBP [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] and ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement].”
The group added: “UndocuBlack and its partners have been sounding the alarm on the anti-Blackness that exists in all levels of the immigration systems for years. It shouldn’t have taken photos of Black trauma to get the attention of the world and the Administration.”
If the investigation finds no wrongdoing on the agents’ parts, UndocuBlack said it won’t be shocked.
“While conducting the immediate response needed for the incident, we prepared ourselves for the silence that would follow once the news cycle changed,” UndocuBlack said. “That silence is what we are experiencing today. As we continue to fight for the dignified and humane treatment of Black migrants, we know that ICE and CBP are not ‘rouge’ agencies. They are operating exactly how they were designed to. Inhumanity and cruelty go hand in hand with these agencies, so we will not be surprised if the investigation ends with no accountability.”
The National Bar Association (NBA), an organization of mainly African-American lawyers and judges, filed an amicus brief on Nov. 19 against Mayorkas, to prevent DHS from deporting the Haitian migrants and “denying” them due process.
The group also organized pro bono legal support for the Haitians migrants shortly after the Del Rio incident.
NBA President Carlos Moore told the DCNF that he found the images of the horseback agents and Haitian migrants “appalling and disheartening to say the least.”
“As President of the National Bar Association, I believe it is always my duty to ensure that I use my personal legal acumen as well as my influence to help those who need it most, which is why I traveled to Texas as soon as possible to visit the encampment to stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti and to pledge my ongoing support,” Moore explained.
— National Bar Assoc. (@nationalbar) September 21, 2021
Moore expressed his disappointment with DHS’s failure to deliver on its promise of a quick investigation, adding that the only conclusion should be finding the agents responsible of misconduct.
“The fact that the DHS has not made good on its promise to swiftly investigate the situation involving the horseback border agents whipping Haitian migrants at the border is unacceptable and should not be tolerated,” Moore said. “In my opinion, there is no justification for what we saw in those photos, and a good faith investigation would render only one conclusion- wrongdoing on the part of those agents warranting reprimand and potential termination.”
President of the local National Border Patrol Council chapter in Del Rio, Texas Jon Anfinsen said the union doesn’t believe there was a violation of policy because the incident is just one example of the regular job of the horse patrol.
“Out in the brush, if a horse patrol unit is facing a group of 20 people, they will sometimes use the horses to encircle the group to try to contain them so that people aren’t able to abscond,” Anfinsen explained. “So, the fact that there are horses running quickly near people, it’s not shocking to us, the people who are on the ground doing it everyday, or working around it everyday.”
He said the administration holds partial blame for failing to conclude the report on time, adding that he believes it’s because the findings, which he said should be that the agents did nothing wrong, aren’t consistent with their claims.
“We think the delay is caused in part because the agency and the White House know that the facts of the case don’t support what they’re claiming took place, so that’s a piece of it,” he said. “Some of it has to do with typical bureaucratic red tape, and all that stuff that normally happens with government work, but, in large part, they know that what they allege took place didn’t happen.
He added: “So, from our point of view, we don’t think anything should come from this. The agents should have their names cleared if there’s any wrongdoing so they can get back to work. But, I don’t know, and I don’t know if they’ll do the right thing. And if they don’t, that’s where the Council steps in and we do our thing.”
CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) took charge of the investigation after the DHS’s Office of Inspector General declined to conduct the probe. The investigation has yet to conclude and the latest update is from Nov. 16.
DHS, CBP, and the White House did not respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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