A video showing Border Patrol officers on horseback confronting Haitian migrants attempting to cross the Rio Grande has garnered a strong reaction from the Biden administration and other politicians. Asked about the disturbing footage, which shows agents charging and grabbing at asylum seekers, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the images “horrific.” She did not elaborate on whether the administration had any designs on walking back current plans to deport the migrants back to Haiti.
The asylum seekers in the video were part of a mass of more than 10,000 Haitians waiting at a makeshift camp in Del Rio, Texas. Low on supplies, they were allowed to cross back and forth to Mexico to collect food, but Reuters reported that on Sunday border agents abruptly reversed this decision. One agent, according to The El Paso Times, yelled, “Let’s go! Get out now! Back to Mexico!” as he herded men and women back into the river.
Several thousand in the camp have already been deported by US authorities back to Haiti. The country has been seized by back-to-back crises in recent times, with the effect of the assassination of the country’s president in July being compounded by a brutal 7.2-magnitude earthquake in August.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that while there were claims the Border Patrol agents whipped migrants with horse reins or ropes, an agency investigation has found no one was struck. However, the investigation found that agents used inappropriate force and language, and one agent admitted “twirling these split reins as a distancing tactic.”