Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas traveled to Del Rio, Texas where he had to explain why his agents were threatening and scaring Haitian migrants.
News crews and photographers recorded scenes and a bevy of photos have hit social media showing DHS agents threatening and pushing back migrants with horses. According to the Washington Post, one agent is heard on video yelling obscenities as a child jumps out of a horse’s path.
Mayorkas told reporters Monday DHS is investigating the incident. However, that didn’t work as backlash grew and DHS was forced to release a statement on the issue.
“The Department of Homeland Security does not tolerate the abuse of migrants in our custody and we take these allegations very seriously,” the DHS statement read. “The footage is extremely troubling and the facts learned from the full investigation, which will be conducted swiftly, will define the appropriate disciplinary actions to be taken.”
The statement added Mayorkas has directed DHS’ internal oversight office to send personnel to the camp to oversee agents “full-time.”
A group of Democratic lawmakers have condemned DHS agents’ actions and behavior after photos and videos began running across social media. Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson was one of the most outspoken politicians.
“Video and photos coming out of Del Rio showing U.S. Border Patrol’s mistreatment of Haitian migrants along the border are horrific and disturbing,” Thompson said.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also blasted the agency saying “Immigration should not be a crime, and its criminalization is a relatively recent invention.”
Some reports said the agents were whipping Haitian migrants, but others say they were actually swinging their horses’ reins and no one appeared to be struck or directly attacked by the agent. Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz told reporters agents were trying to control their horses.
A video was taken and posted by Al Jazerra of agents shouting at a group of migrants crossing the Rio Grande ““This is why your country’s s—, because you use your women for this!”
“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
DHS has already begun flying the migrants back to Haiti despite the fact that most, if not all of the migrants left Haiti a decade ago after a devastating earthquake. The island is currently trying to rebuild itself after Tropical Storm Grace and another 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti less than a week apart this summer.
Additionally the country’s president Jovenel Moise was assassinated in July, throwing the country into even more uncertainty.