Inquiry Finds No Whipping but Faults Border Patrol

Four personnel recommended for disciplinary action over treatment of migrants
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 8, 2022 4:10 PM CDT
Report Criticizes Force Used but Finds No Whipping at Border
Border Patrol officers contain a group of migrants on the shore of the Rio Grande after they crossed from Mexico into Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 19.   (AP Photo/Felix Marquez, File)

US Border Patrol agents on horseback engaged in "unnecessary use of force" against non-threatening Haitian immigrants but didn't whip any with their reins "intentionally or otherwise," according to a federal investigation of chaotic scenes along the Texas-Mexico border last fall that sparked widespread condemnation. In a 511-page report released Friday, the AP reports, Customs and Border Protection blamed a "lack of command control and communication" for mounted agents using their horses to forcibly block and move migrants during an influx of Haitians arriving last September at the border outside Del Rio, Texas.

"We're gonna learn from this incident, and we'll find a way to do better," CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, who took over the agency in December, said during a news conference. "Not everyone's going to like all the findings, but the investigation was comprehensive and fair." Video and photos made it appear agents were whipping Haitians. The Biden administration promised a full investigation after many in the president's own party objected to such tactics with racial overtones. "I promise you, those people will pay," the president said at the time.

By Sept. 19, 2021, around 15,000 Haitian migrants had crossed from Mexico into the US and were concentrated in an encampment under the international bridge. Magnus said the investigation began the day after the incident and included testimony from more than 30 people, including witnesses and journalists. Investigators said they were unable to locate Haitian migrants involved to get their accounts, but used statements and court documents that some provided as part of lawsuits they filed against US authorities. Magnus said four Border Patrol personnel have been recommended for disciplinary action. Mark Morgan, who was an acting CBP commissioner under Trump, dismissed the entire investigation as politically motivated since no Haitians were actually whipped. "From the start, these agents have been smeared, lied about, and vilified by nearly everyone on the left," Morgan said in a statement.

(More Border Patrol stories.)

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