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AUSTIN, Texas — The Department of Homeland Security has not produced results from an investigation into the conduct of horse-mounted Border Patrol agents in Texas one month after Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas promised a conclusion within days.
Mayorkas had vowed before Congress to conclude whether agents were too aggressive in stopping Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas, in mid-September within "a matter of days, not weeks." President Joe Biden and other top government officials, including Mayorkas, had quickly condemned the agents after speculation spread on social media that they mistreated migrants, but the government has not yet offered clarification about what they learned about the incident.
DHS and Customs and Border Protection did not respond to requests for comment.
In a highly publicized incident that took place as 20,000 Haitian migrants streamed across the Rio Grande from Mexico over a period of days in September, mounted agents were photographed and filmed attempting to prevent people from walking across. The migrants ignored verbal orders to turn around, and the mounted agents rode along the riverbank where migrants tried to get by them.
One agent was accused by third parties on social media of whipping a migrant. Before any investigation into the investigation had been undertaken, top administration officials condemned the federal law enforcement agent. Later, video evidence showed that the whipping did not occur.
Biden said that people were “being strapped” in an “outrageous” way and vowed that “those people will pay.” Mayorkas said he was “horrified” by the images before later admitting that he reacted “without having seen the images” before commenting to the media.
Border Patrol union and former DHS officials from the Trump administration said the comments would make a fair investigation impossible, given that the DHS and CBP superiors of investigators called it abuse before any investigation was undertaken.
CBP, which oversees the Border Patrol, initially launched its own investigation. CBP investigators will present their findings to superiors who will reach a final conclusion.
Border Patrol’s horse patrol unit in Del Rio is operating daily despite White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki's claim in September that mounted agents had been pulled from their saddles following the false abuse allegations, two officials told the Washington Examiner earlier this month.
Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz told federal law enforcement officials this week that agents assigned to the equestrian unit in the Del Rio region are “still operating despite the alleged ban Biden officials imposed,” according to a senior U.S. border official.
“The only change that was made was that they were pulled away from tasking on the river. No horse patrol in any sector has been disbanded. They're still alive and well in Del Rio, just working nonriver areas,” the same person said.
Agents in Border Patrol’s horse patrol program are tasked with working in “challenging terrain, environmentally protected, and privately owned sensitive geographic locations."
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Original Author: Anna Giaritelli