Homeland Security Chief Says Videos Showing Migrant Mistreatment At Border ‘Troubled Me Profoundly’

homeland-security-chief-says-videos-showing-migrant-mistreatment-at-border-‘troubled-me-profoundly’

Topline

Department of Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas became the latest member of the Biden Administration Tuesday who said he was “horrified” by new images of border patrol agents acting aggressively toward migrants they are trying to clear from the southern border, vowing a swift investigation and a “full force” response from his agency. 

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 26: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the Senate … [+] Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on May 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. Although the Biden Administration has yet to release its FY2022 budget for the Department of Homeland Security, Mayorkas testified about the immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, Coast Guard mission priorities and other topics. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Key Facts

Mayorkas told CNN’s “New Day” he has seen the videos of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents corralling migrants on horseback, swinging their reins and in at least one video berating the people attempting to reach a make-shift refugee camp. 

He singled out one video captured by a reporter that showed a child ducking to avoid an agent on a horse moving toward her. 

Mayorkas refused to explicitly label the actions of the border patrol agents as abuse, but said “any mistreatment or abuse of a migrant is unacceptable” and against  “our department’s values.” 

He said the CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility has launched an investigation into the event, and vowed the probe will be done “swiftly” with a “full force” reaction from Homeland Security depending on what it turns up. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also said Tuesday that President Biden has seen the images and found them to be “horrific and horrible”; she called the images “horrible” on Monday.  

While condemning the way border patrol agents acted toward the migrants, Psaki emphasized the Biden administration has “to implement our laws at the border.” 

Crucial Quote 

“I was horrified by what I saw,” Mayorkas said. “I’m going to let the investigation run its course, but the videos I observed troubled me profoundly.”

Key Background 

The photos and videos captured scenes of border patrol agents attempting to empty out a crowded encampment in a Texas border town that has been flooded by migrants—mostly hailing from Haiti—seeking refuge amid ongoing instability in their country. With over 12,000 migrants camping out under or around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, the Biden administration ramped up its efforts to remove the influx of people over the weekend, sending some on flights back to Haiti. Mayorkas said Tuesday he is expecting four flights to leave on Tuesday and there should be a “dramatic change” in the situation in the next two or three days. “We are moving more very quickly to other processing centers so we can ensure their security and the safety of the community,” Mayorkas said. 

Further Reading 

“Videos Capture Border Agents Aggressively Rounding Up Haitian Migrants—’Horrible,’ White House’s Psaki Says” (Forbes)

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