Punish border agents who 'weaponized' horses against migrants: Is Mayorkas right?

Felix Marquez / AP

Fact Box

  • After images and videos of Customs and Border Protection agents on horseback “chasing down migrants at the southern border” emerged in September 2021, the Department of Homeland Security announced its decision to launch an investigation into the treatment of Haitian migrants. The incident of alleged abuse was recently debunked, and the individuals in question were placed on “only administrative duties” for the duration of the investigation. 
  • Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated the incident “troubled me profoundly” and said horses should not be “weaponized” against migrants. A source told Fox News that any charges incurred will be “administrative violations” and not criminal. 
  • The National Border Patrol Council responded to Biden and his 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 239,416 in May 2022. Of those numbers, unaccompanied children were up 21% to 14,699, but the majority–69% or 165,200–were single adults.

Amanda (Yes) 

While the worst initial assumptions about CBP agents whipping Haitian migrants proved mistaken, their actions were still pretty terrible, as they used horses to herd, scare and nearly trample undocumented immigrants who were fleeing multiple political and environmental crises in their home country. Turning work animals into weapons is not only horrifying for the targets of such actions but, frankly, is cruel to the animals who have no say in their participation.

Arguments made on behalf of CBP, claiming the incident was simply an unavoidable part of a hard job, were subsequently undermined by these agents' apparent aggressive handling of the situation. Not only was an agent caught in the moment yelling at migrants, 'this is why your country's sh--,' a challenge coin was minted in celebration of the horses' weaponization, with a terrified man getting chased down on one side of the coin and racially charged language on the other. Reinforcing years of criticism about CBP's racism is not an effective way to defend the image of white men on horses chasing after black refugees.

Additionally, the investigation has already dragged on much further than the Biden administration's initial timeline, with barely any movement seen since the announcement of the inquiry last September. Arguing that just administrative—not even criminal—discipline is a product of political tempers riding high is a bit rich.

Complaining about the DOJ's accountability efforts—in which the specifics of the discipline haven't even been announced—reads as hollow considering how few consequences for poor behavior there's been among border patrol; Agents are rarely fired for even egregious infractions. Preemptively declaring any discipline unacceptable, regardless of circumstance, is a poor method of justifying bad behavior.

Curtice (No)

The Biden administration seems to perpetually find others to scapegoat when it comes to errors they’ve made. Biden ignores how he, his administration, and friends in the media peddled a false narrative against these agents, who were wrongly accused of mistreating illegally crossing Haitian migrants last September. Worse, they are doubling down on it as these agents still face disciplinary action

The media’s creation of the false ‘whipping’ narrative, and the administration—from Jen Psaki to Alejandro Mayorkas to the president himself—jumping on board to demonize Del Rio’s border security officers was atrocious. Biden even said at the time, 'I promise you, those people will pay. There will be an investigation underway now and there will be consequences,' adding fuel to an already culturally divisive fire. Per usual, convictions lead before an investigation and due process have even begun.

When examining the Biden administration's policies and his party's ongoing position and rhetoric on this issue, it’s clear how much they stand at odds against the mission and purpose of our nation's Border Patrol. They seem to be philosophically opposed to securing the border at all, ignoring the record-breaking migrant encounters at the border in May 2022.

More damage than that has already been done under this administration, as the public’s view of border security has been warped through the media and politicians’ 'vicious lie' that slandered some of America's hardest workers, who are currently overwhelmed with the border crisis under Biden. As the National Border Patrol Council president, Brandon Judd, said of Biden, 'He is going after these agents because he panders to the open border activists.' This shouldn't be about pointing fingers but doing the right thing. Once again, the Biden administration fails in that regard.

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