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'Horrific' photos emerge of Border Patrol Agents 'whipping' Haitian migrants
22 September 2021, 07:13 | Updated: 22 September 2021, 07:17
Shocking videos and photos have emerged that appear to show US Border Patrol agents on horseback using whips on Haitian migrants.
White House Press secretary Jen Psaki called the scenes "horrific" but added that more information was needed.
In both footage and photos, agents are shown confronting migrants near a camp by the Rio Grande River in Del Rio, Texas as they try to cross the US border from Mexico.
Some images show one agent riding a horse with what appears to be a whip or reign and grabbing one of the migrants by their t-shirt.
According to the El Paso Times, an agent swung his whip and charged his horse at those trying to enter the country, shouting: "Let's go! Get out now! Back to Mexico".
But now Border Patrol officers have denied whipping migrants and claimed anyone with "two brain cells" knows they use split reins to control their horses, after images emerged of mounted officers appearing to whip Haitian border crossers.
Agents pushed back against the criticism leveled at them and accused the Biden administration of trying to deflect from its own failings in tackling the migrant crisis, the Daily Mail reported.
One unidentified agent told Fox News the outrage over the images shows officials lack "basic knowledge" of horse handling.
US Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas said the images of Border Patrol agents on horseback rounding up migrants trying to cross the southern border "horrified" him.
But he stopped short of calling the new influx of migrants there a crisis.
Mayorkas told CNN that "any mistreatment or abuse of a migrant is unacceptable" and added, "the pictures that I've observed troubled me profoundly". But he wouldn't explicitly say whether they reflected mistreatment or abuse, deferring instead to a promised investigation.
"That defies all of the values that we seek to instil in our people," Mayorkas said, adding that the department will address the situation "with full force" after the investigation is complete.
The Office of Professional Responsibility is leading the investigation and will have personnel on the ground full-time monitoring the situation in Del Rio, Texas.
The border town has seen an influx of thousands of Haitian migrants fleeing an unstable situation in their home country and attempting to enter the US through Mexico.
More than 6,000 Haitians and other migrants have been removed from an encampment in Del Rio, and Mayorkas predicted a "dramatic change" in the number of migrants there within the next two to four days as it continues the removal process.
The latest increase in migration at the border has prompted Republicans to renew attacks on Democrats for what they say is a failure to address a crisis at the US border.
But on CNN, Mayorkas declined to call the situation a "crisis", saying only that it's a "heart-breaking situation" and a "tremendous challenge".