‘They will pay:’ Is Biden admin right to suspend border patrol use of horses?
- On September 24, 2021, President Joe Biden criticized the actions of certain border patrol agents riding horseback when encountering crossing Haitian migrants, saying, “It’s outrageous, I promise you, those people will pay.”
- Days prior, Vice President Harris mirrored President Biden, as their actions “deeply troubled” her and “human beings should never be treated that way.”
- After images and videos of Customs and Border Protection agents on horseback “chasing down migrants at the southern border” emerged, the Department of Homeland Security announced its decision to launch an investigation into the treatment of Haitian migrants.
- The National Border Patrol Council responded to the administration’s condemnation of their actions, saying they made “irrational claims about being horrified by images that show Border Patrol agents on horseback using authorized equipment and techniques to deter and prevent a large group of people from illegally entering the United States in Del Rio, Texas.”
- US Customs and Border Protection reported the number of migrant apprehensions reached a 21-year-record high of 213,534 in July 2021. August has seen a slight drop of 208,887 migrant encounters.
President Biden's decision to ban the use of horse patrols on the US border is something that should have been initiated a long time ago. Although this is a step in the right direction, Biden's steps towards handling immigration have been inconsistent with the sentiments he communicated throughout his presidential campaign.
While it is being disputed that Haitian migrants were being whipped, it is entirely possible to whip somebody with a rein. Several witness accounts state these Border Patrol agents were using the reins to harm migrants. These agents were chasing asylum seekers for crossing over the border just to obtain resources like water and food while they waited to seek asylum in the United States.
The United States appears to be selective with who they aggressively enforce their immigration laws. Despite the 60,000 undocumented Canadians in the United States, Border Patrol Agents tend to incite violence on immigrants of color. This is not the first time horses have been utilized to strike fear through Black people in the United States. Throughout the 1800s, American slave-catchers rode along the US-Mexico border on horseback in hopes of catching runaway slaves for a monetary reward.
So far, Biden has not delivered on his intentions of making the process of immigration more manageable for all parties involved. The president went out of his way to appeal a ruling that would have axed former President Trump's non-inclusive Title 42 immigration plan. Hopefully, the president's following actions will demonstrate a new plan of action for immigrants.
The Biden administration's senseless banning of the use of horses for border patrol agents, whose duty it is to protect the US border, has made it harder for them to do their jobs. Horses are an effective means of patrol and should continue to be used.
The controversy started with a series of photos depicting border patrol agents on horseback responding aggressively toward a group of Haitian immigrants trying to cross the border illegally. However, the photographer who took the pictures in question later explained that they were 'misconstrued.' For example, in one photo, it appears that an officer was allegedly whipping migrants when he was swinging his reins. According to the photographer, none of the officers whipped anyone. Former border patrol agents have added to the debate, including Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council, who said these reign-twirling methods exist 'to protect the horse, to protect the rider, and to protect the individual that was trying to cause chaos and knock down that rider from that horse.'
Despite the Biden administration expressing how 'horrific' the situation was, banning horses for border patrol agents will not solve immigration issues nor the exasperated relations between incoming migrants and law enforcement. Those criticizing the officers have also seemingly forgotten that the Haitians in question committed a federal offense in attempting to cross the border illegally.
Some could even argue that banning horses is simply a political move, as it makes it harder for border patrol agents to effectively do their part in deterring illegal immigration. Instead of President Biden supporting border agents, he condemned them in saying they 'will pay.' Pay for what—doing their jobs as their training allows? Someone has to protect American national sovereignty, and the current president continually refuses to.