The White House condemned U.S. border patrol agents on Monday who were seen using a whip-like cord to block Haitian migrants carrying supplies into the U.S. from Mexico.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she had seen “some of the footage,” calling it unacceptable.
“We just saw this footage. It’s horrible to watch. I just have to get more information on it...FLASH. I can’t imagine what the scenario is where that would be appropriate. I’m certainly not suggesting that. But we’ve just seen the footage earlier this morning.”
Reuters drone footage captured hundreds of mostly Haitian migrants crossing back and forth between Ciudad Acuna in Mexico and the sprawling camp across the border in Del Rio, Texas to buy food and water that was short in supply on the U.S. side.
Reuters witnesses saw mounted officers in cowboy hats blocking the paths of migrants, and the apparent use of horse reins swung to threaten the migrants.
At the White House, Psaki was pressed over whether disciplinary action would be taken.
Reporter: “Is it the President’s stance, or the White House’s stance that whoever these border agents are using what seems to be whips on migrants, that they would be fired, or at least never be able to do that again?”
Psaki: “Of course they should never be able to do it again. I don’t know what the circumstances would be, it’s obviously horrific the footage.”
U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said the incident was being investigated to make sure that there was not an "unacceptable" response by law enforcement.
While visiting Del Rio on Monday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the long reins are used by mounted officials to "ensure control of the horse,” but also vowed to “investigate the facts."
The camp under a bridge spanning the Rio Grande has become the latest flashpoint for U.S. authorities seeking to stem a flow of migrants fleeing gang violence, extreme poverty and natural disasters in their home countries.
Hundreds of migrants have been turned around on the Mexico side, leaving uncertainty about whether they’ll be deported on flights organized by U.S. authorities.
Mayorkas said he expects between one to three daily repatriation flights back to Haiti, and stressed in a news conference that if individuals try enter the U.S illegally they will be returned.