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Harris 'Deeply Troubled' by Images From Border

Homeland Security says behavior of mounted Border Patrol agents will be investigated
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2021 3:17 PM CDT
Harris 'Deeply Troubled' by Images From Border
US Customs and Border Protection mounted officers attempt to contain migrants as they cross the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021.   (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

(Newser) – Vice President Kamala Harris says she is "deeply troubled" by images and videos of mounted Border Patrol officers using their animals to try to force back migrants at the Rio Grande. "Human beings should never be treated that way," Harris said Tuesday. Harris and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas say the incident will be investigated, the Washington Post reports. Witnesses reported seeing agents swing whips at the mostly Haitian migrants Sunday, though authorities say they were actually swinging their horses' long reins. The officers were seen chasing the migrants and one was heard shouting an obscenity at a child who jumped out of the way. Another mounted agent grabbed a man who was carrying bags of food. More:

  • "That is unacceptable." "One cannot weaponize a horse to aggressively attack a child,” Mayorkas said. “That is unacceptable. That is not what our policies and our training require. He says he was "profoundly" troubled by how the migrants were treated in videos he saw Monday.

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  • Haitians were "quite scared." Photographer Paul Ratje tells NPR that he's not sure what prompted an agent on horseback to grab a man by his shirt and swing him around. "I thought the Haitians were quite scared, and I think there was probably some panic, which resulted in them trying to run around the horses," he says.
  • Expulsions have been stepped up. More than 6,000 migrants have now been removed from an encampment under a bridge in the border community of Del Rio, Texas, the AP reports. Officials say there were around 15,000 people there when numbers peaked on Saturday. The US has stepped up expulsion flights to Haiti and Mexico has started busing migrants away from its side of the border.

  • Abbott blames Biden administration. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott visited Del Rio Tuesday and blamed the crisis on the Biden administration, the El Paso Times "Because the Biden administration is doing nothing to secure our border, it has been the state of Texas that has had to step up and address this challenge," the Republican said. He said state and federal agencies will remain in the area until it is "fully restored to total control."
  • Del Rio residents speak out. The New York Times reports that the surge in migrants and the temporary closure of the bridge that connects the city to Mexico has been tough on Del Rio residents. Many in the city of 36,000 cross the border daily. " No one was prepared for this," says resident Jose Rodriguez, a 40-year-old warehouse worker. "We won’t be the same after this is over." Authorities have been making dozens of arrests a day and local police and jails are overwhelmed.
  • Feds defend deportations. Mayorkas says the US has determined that Haiti can "receive individuals safely," though many say they are afraid to return after recent political strife. "Haiti has no president, no jobs, there is nothing. In the earthquake a lot of people died," one migrant tells the AP. "It’s not right over there, I’m going back to Mexico.”
(Read more US-Mexico border stories.)

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