Jen Psaki calls possible use of whips by Border Patrol on Haitian migrants 'horrific'
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday, September 20, condemned the shocking attack on migrants after pictures circulating on the Internet appeared to show a US Border Patrol agent on horseback using a whip to deter migrants. Psaki called the attack "horrific" but refused to open up about the consequences that the agent could face for his actions. "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 told reporters at the daily White House briefing. "I don't think anyone seeing that footage would think it's acceptable or appropriate."
A photograph taken by Paul Ratje showed an agent riding a horse grabbing a migrant trying to cross into the United States from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, on Sunday, September 19. It was reported that the agent attacked the migrants by charging his horse and swinging his whip as he yelled, "Let's go! Get out now! Back to Mexico!". As per a Reuters report, a law enforcement officer was seen using a lariat and whipping it near the migrant's face. However, it is not clear if it was the agent in the recent picture. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee condemned the cruelty saying: "These are horrific images from our Southern Border depicting Border Patrol agents allegedly whipping Haitian migrants. These are cruel, inhumane, human rights abuses and a violation of domestic and international law. We must humanely process Haitian asylum seekers at our border."
These are horrific images from our Southern Border depicting Border Patrol agents allegedly whipping Haitian migrants. These are cruel, inhumane, human rights abuses and a violation of domestic and international law. We must humanely process Haitian asylum seekers at our border. pic.twitter.com/f7QnaXDNoM— Sheila Jackson Lee (@JacksonLeeTX18) September 20, 2021
Psaki was asked if the Biden administration allows the use of the whip, to which she replied saying that the footage was "horrible to watch", adding, "we just have to get more information on that" before commenting on the matter any further. "Of course they should never be able to do it again," Psaki said when asked if the agent in the picture should be fired.
In a statement Monday night, September 20, the Department of Homeland Security said the agency "does not tolerate the abuse of migrants in our custody and we take these allegations very seriously." The statement further confirmed that Custom and Border Protection's Office of Professional Responsibility "is investigating the matter and has alerted the DHS Office of Inspector General."
Asked about the photo, Homeland Security head Alejandro Mayorkas said that he was being asked questions by a reporter who was "assuming the facts" and claimed that maybe the agent in the photograph was only holding a long rein. Mayorkas was also questioned when he was vising Del Rio, Texas, where over 15,000 migrants, mostly Haitian, have converged on a border bridge.
In what could be called a swift large-scale expulsion of refugees in America, Haitians camped on a Texas border are being flown back to their homeland. Others are being blocked from crossing the border from Mexico. KENS-TV has reported that the migrants are dealing with a lack of food and water and triple-digit temperatures. Haitian Ambassador to the US Bocchit Edmond wrote a letter to Mayorkas on Sept 16 saying: “I want to ensure that our nationals are treated with dignity and in accordance with the rule of law … [and] are afforded care and expedited legal process.” He had also asked for a meeting.