UPDATED 9/22, 3:45 p.m. ET: After images showing Border Patrol whipping and trying to capture Haitian refugees received swift and immediate backlash on social media, the National Fraternal Order of Police’s Twitter account attempted to explain the photos.
“For all you Twitter warriors out there: these are NOT whips. And no, Border Patrol agents are NOT ‘whipping’ people,” wrote the group that bills itself “the oldest and largest police union” in America. “They are REINS… Stay with us here, like a steering wheel is used to drive a car, the reins are used to ‘drive’ the horse. Thanks for coming to our TED talk.”
While the organization’s gaslighting didn’t do much except highlight its lack of human decency, it did draw people to highlight errors in their explanation:
One Twitter user pointed out how the officers looked to be “steering” the horses in circles, while another pointed out how the reins were being used as whips.
See original story below.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked Monday about a recent photo which appears to show a U.S. Border Patrol agent on horseback wielding a horse rein as a whip as migrants attempt to cross the Rio Grande into the United States.
“I have seen some of the footage. I don’t have the full context. I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate, but I don’t have additional details,” Psaki said, per NBC News. “I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it’s acceptable or appropriate.”
According to Reuters, hundreds of Haitian migrants have been stationed in a makeshift camp under a bridge in the town of Del Rio in Texas as they waited to undergo the immigration process. In the meantime, U.S. officials were permitting them to go to Ciudad Acuña in Mexico in pursuit of food and supplies, and return through a shallow point of the river.
That changed over the weekend when U.S. border agents started returning migrants to Haiti, while those who traveled into Mexico were told they wouldn’t be allowed back into the United States.
Reuters reports one lariat-wielding agent swung at a migrant as they struggled to navigate through the water, while another incident saw an officer grab the shirt of a man carrying bags of food, which can be seen in the above photo. Both managed to evade the officers.
U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz claimed during a press conference Sunday that food, water, and other necessities were being provided, as they aim to process 12,662 migrants, specifically those located under the bridge, over the next six to seven days. Ortiz said they want to deter any additional migrants until the current situation in Del Rio is resolved.
“We are constantly assessing circumstances on the ground” in Haiti, Psaki said, per Politco. “Obviously our objective here is not just to work to address the circumstances — which are very difficult — in Del Rio, but also to continue to work with the officials in Haiti to improve the conditions [and] to provide assistance. We’re doing all these pieces at the same time.”
Psaki wouldn’t comment on whether the Biden administration will reverse course on plans to return migrants to Haiti.