Defense & National Security — CBP to discipline Border Patrol agents

·6 min read
<em><span class="has-inline-color has-cyan-bluish-gray-color">AP</span></em>
AP

Four Border Patrol agents will face disciplinary action after agents on horseback in Del Rio, Texas, last year corralled Haitian migrants seeking to cross into the U.S.

We’ll dive into the findings of the investigation into what happened. Plus, we’ll talk about Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s (R) push to get exemptions from the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate approved for members of the state’s National Guard.

This is Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Jordan Williams.

Agents face discipline for treatment of migrants

Four Border Patrol agents will face disciplinary action after agents on horseback in Del Rio, Texas, last year corralled Haitian migrants seeking to cross into the U.S.

A 511-page report from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Professional Responsibility found “failures at multiple levels of the agency, a lack of appropriate policies and training, and unprofessional and dangerous behavior by several individual agents,” according to a CBP statement.

A quick rewind: Images of the September incident went viral, drawing attention to the plight of some 15,000 Haitian migrants who had camped under a bridge near the U.S.-Mexico border.

The images showed officers chasing some migrants and initially raised questions about whether the agents whipped any migrants with the horses’ reins.

The report determined that agents did not strike “intentionally or otherwise, any migrant with their reins.”

‘Unsafe,’ ‘unprofessional’ behavior: The report detailed other behavior by agents on horseback, including grabbing one migrant by their shirt and spinning them around and making disparaging remarks about Haiti.

“One BPA [Border Patrol agent] acted in an unprofessional manner by yelling comments related to a migrant’s national origin and sex, stating in part, ‘Hey! You use your women? This is why your country’s shit, you use your women for this,’” the report found.

“The same BPA acted in an unsafe manner by pursuing the individual he had yelled at along the river’s edge forcing his horse to narrowly maneuver around a small child on a slanted concrete ramp.”

Orders from Texas: Border Patrol agents were following orders from the Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS), the report found.

“As a result of a lack of command, control, and communications, [Horse Patrol Unit] personnel carried out an operation at the request of TXDPS which directly contravened [U.S. Border Patrol] operational objectives and resulted in the unnecessary use of force against migrants who were attempting to reenter the United States with food,” the report found.

The reality of Del Rio: The Del Rio incident marked a turning point for the Biden administration’s border policy, highlighting a measure of chaos and confusion in federal border and immigration policy.

Among the administration’s opponents, the incident sparked cries of chaos at the border that have consistently grown and continue to dog the Biden White House and energize the far right.

A large swath of Biden’s supporters, particularly in the immigrant advocacy community, saw a violation of human rights that essentially went unpunished.

Read the full story here.

TN governor asks for Guard vaccine exemptions

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) is pressing the Department of Defense to approve requests for exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate made by members of his state’s National Guard.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin obtained by The Hill, Lee says his state’s Guard has recommended approving the requests and are awaiting final decisions from Army and Air Force officials.

‘Choice to reduce force:’ “Our force is medically ready, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, and has proven this even as the science on COVID-19 changed drastically,” Lee wrote.

“Rejecting these exemptions would be a choice to reduce the force at the risk of both our state preparedness and our national security,” he added.

Last week’s demonstration: Lee’s letter comes a week after a group of Tennessee National Guard members who feared being discharged held a demonstration urging him to take action over the mandate. At the time, the governor’s office told Fox 17 Nashville that no one would be terminated based on vaccination status.

A spokeswoman for Lee told The Hill that the governor still has no plans to terminate unvaccinated Guard members.

“As you know, the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is a DoD requirement, but we have approved every exemption request at the state level and are advocating for the same exemptions federally,” the spokeswoman said.

The current stats: According to data from the Army released Friday, 89 percent of National Guard members have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and 87 percent are fully inoculated.

More than 12,000 Guard members have refused the vaccine, but none have been separated.

Meanwhile, more than 7,000 temporary exemptions have been approved for Guard members, while only six medical exemptions and no religious exemptions have been granted.

Read the full story here.

Army looks to recoup money from Flynn

The Department of Defense is seeking to recoup thousands of dollars from former national security advisor Michael Flynn after determining that the retired general failed to disclose foreign payments.

Flynn, who served for three weeks under then-President Donald Trump, received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Turkish and Russian entities in 2015 without approval from the U.S. government, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

The U.S. Army told Flynn in May that it is seeking a sum of $38,557.06 after finding that the former general received the same amount from the Russian government for attending a dinner in celebration of Russian news agency RT.

This finding, among others, was released in a January memo to the Army that dealt with the results of an investigation of Flynn.

Read more here.

ON TAP FOR MONDAY

  • The National Defense Industrial Association will host the “JADC2: All Domain Warfare Symposium” at 9 a.m.

  • The House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity will hold a hearing on “Ending Veteran Hunger: Examining the Impact of COVID-19 on Food Insecurity” at 10 a.m.

  • The Wilson Center will host a discussion on “AMLO’s Visit to Washington: Key Issues on the Bilateral Agenda” at 11 a.m.

  • The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace will host “Carnegie Connects: Getting the Intel Right with James Clapper” at 1 p.m.

  • The Center for Strategic and International Studies will host an event on “The U.S.-Australia Alliance: Aligning Priorities in the Indo-Pacific with Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles” at 3 p.m.

WHAT WE’RE READING

That’s it for today. Check out The Hill’s Defense and National Security pages for the latest coverage. See you next week!

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