Uproar Over Mounted Border Agents Turning Back Haitian Migrants
Muhammad Irfan 29 days ago Tue 21st September 2021 | 01:30 AM
Del Rio, United States, Sept 20 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 21st Sep, 2021 ) :US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Monday that the authorities would investigate reports that Haitian migrants in Texas may have been abused by border patrol officers on horseback.
Pictures by AFP photographer Paul Ratje and video footage which spread quickly over social media appeared to show riders swinging their long reins to threaten migrants and push them back toward the river.
Ratje said many of the Haitians were crossing the river back and forth to get food for their families and were blocked by the horses.
"Some of the migrants started running to try to get around the horsemen, and one of the agents grabbed the Haitian in the picture by the shirt and he ended up swinging him around while the horse trotted in a circle," Ratje said of one particular photograph.
Ratje said he did not think the man had been hurt.
Shortly after that, he said, "They kind of calmed down, and they started letting people in." - Under investigation - Some people online said the images evoked past times when horse-mounted police or prison guards used whips against African-Americans.
"We are going to investigate the facts to ensure that the situation is as we understand it to be," Mayorkas told reporters.
"If it's anything different, we will respond accordingly.
At the White House, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she had seen the footage.
"I don't have the full context," she said, adding: "I can't imagine what context would make that appropriate.
"It's horrible to watch," she said.
- Fake information - The migrant surge has become a crisis for President Joe Biden's administration.
He said the government would step up repatriation flights for the Haitians, and that US authorities considered it safe to send them back.
The Haitians, Mayorkas said, have been mistakenly told that they will be able to stay in the United States as refugees under "temporary protected status" (TPS) due to the recent political turmoil and a strong earthquake in Haiti.
"We are very concerned that Haitians who are taking this irregular migration path are receiving false information that the border is open, or that temporary protected status is available," Mayorkas said.
"We have reiterated that our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey," he said.
"No one who arrived this past week will be eligible to get TPS," Mayorkas emphasized.
"We made an assessment based on the country conditions, as we are required to do that... Haiti could in fact receive individuals safely," Mayorkas said.
Bennie Thompson, a senior African-American legislator in Biden's Democratic party, called the images of the mounted border agents "horrific and disturbing.""This mistreatment runs counter to our American values and cannot be tolerated," Thompson said.