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Images of Border Patrol’s Treatment of Haitian Migrants Prompt Outrage

  • September 22, 2021

To make good on his campaign promise of improving the agency’s accountability, Mr. Biden nominated Chris Magnus, the Tucson police chief, who is known as a reformist, as his Customs and Border Protection commissioner.

But the Democratic-controlled Senate has yet to schedule a date for his confirmation hearing, nine months into Mr. Biden’s term.

During a news conference in Del Rio on Monday, Chief Raul L. Ortiz of the Border Patrol said the mounted unit was deployed to assist with security and see if any migrants were in distress, as well as to gather intelligence about smuggling organizations.

“Operating in riverine environment, on horseback, is a difficult situation,” he said, adding that agents used reins to try to control horses so that they did not inadvertently injure migrants. He said the actions of one agent on horseback, who appeared to be spinning his reins like a lasso as he loomed over a group in the water, were most likely related to that challenge.

“But we will certainly look into the matter,” Chief Ortiz added, “to make sure that we do not have any activity that could be construed as a response to a law enforcement effort that is unacceptable.”

The Border Patrol’s mounted unit has previously been deployed to areas where it can be hard for agents to see migrants trying to evade them, such as the vast brush of carrizo cane along the Rio Grande, said Gil Kerlikowske, a former commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. Agents have said that migrants can use the wooded areas to easily slip past them.

But the agents on horseback on Monday appeared to be along an open stretch of the Rio Grande, where families with children were also gathered.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/21/us/politics/haitians-border-patrol-photos.html

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