Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday met privately with the horseback agents who were falsely accused of “whipping” Haitian migrants in 2021 – but sources say there was no apology from Mayorkas for the administration’s handling of the controversy.
Multiple Border Patrol sources told Fox News that Mayorkas met privately with the agents during his visit to the Del Rio Sector. Those agents were involved in an incident in Sept. 2021 when they were dealing with a surge of more than 10,000 migrants predominantly from Haiti.
As the situation worsened, the agents were sent out on horseback to control the situation. Images soon circulated on Twitter of the agents trying to block migrants from entering the U.S., and in one case grabbing a migrant’s shirt.
The controversy escalated as some media outlets and Democratic lawmakers misidentified the agents’ split reins, which they use to control and direct the horse – and falsely claimed the agents were using “whips” on the migrants.
Mayorkas initially backed the agents, but later changed his message, saying that the images “troubled me profoundly” and adding that “one cannot weaponize a horse” against migrants.
“Our nation saw horrifying images that do not reflect who we are. We know that those images painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation’s ongoing battle against systemic racism,” Mayorkas said at a subsequent press conference.
The already-debunked claims of whipping were then fueled by President Biden who angrily castigated the agents days after the incident and called for them to be punished, even as an investigation was underway.
“To see people treated like they did, horses barely running over, people being strapped – it’s outrageous,” Biden told reporters, making a whipping motion with his hand.
“I promise you, those people will pay,” he said of the agents. “There will be an investigation underway now and there will be consequences. There will be consequences.”
A lengthy CBP investigation would ultimately confirm that there were no whips and no whipping, although it would fault the agents for allegedly using “denigrating and offensive” language against migrants regarding national origin and gender, and of having maneuvered a horse around a child in an “unsafe manner.” Agents were also said to have used “unnecessary use of force” to drive the migrants back.
The incident proved to be a low point for relations between the administration and the Border Patrol – who were already dealing with a historic migrant crisis still ongoing today. Former Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz had backed his agents and Fox reported how he had fumed over the administration’s failure to come out in support of them.
Mayorkas has since come out and corrected additional false claims about the incident. A White House reporter in May attempted to resurrect the claims of whipping, and Mayorkas cut her off.
“Well, let me just correct you right there because actually, the investigation concluded that the whipping did not occur,” he said sharply.
Fox News is told that while there was no apology from Mayorkas on Wednesday, the agents were able to talk to the secretary about how the incident affected their lives and careers. Fox was also told the tone of the meeting was professional and respectful.
The meeting comes as the border is still grappling with a historic surge of migrants. There were more than 240,000 migrant encounters at the southern border in October, a slight decrease from record numbers seen in September, but still a record for October. In FF 23, there were a record 2.4 million migrant encounters overall.
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