- The Washington Times
Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Border Patrol agents who were involved in a rough encounter with migrants this week in Texas have been sidelined from law enforcement duties during an investigation into their behavior, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told lawmakers Wednesday.

Mr. Mayorkas announced the move after a call Tuesday from Vice President Kamala Harris, his partner in the border czar business, whose office said she expressed “grave concerns” over “mistreatment” of Haitians.

The images of agents on horseback seemingly berating and lashing their reins on migrants who breached the border have drawn a feverish reaction from Democrats, who demanded discipline.

SEE ALSO: DHS chief Mayorkas: Border ‘no less secure’ than it was under Trump

Mr. Mayorkas told the House Homeland Security Committee he shared their outrage and vowed to “pull no punches” in punishing anyone found to have acted outside the rules.

He didn’t say how many agents are being probed, but said they have been moved off their regular duties.

“The individuals, during the pendency of the investigation, are not conducting law enforcement duties to interact with migrants, but rather are conducting administrative duties,” Mr. Mayorkas said.

SEE ALSO: Many Haitian migrants are being released in the U.S. on a ‘very, very large scale,’ say officials

It’s a different tone than he took two days ago at the border when asked about the images. While promising an investigation, he said it seemed agents were trying “to ensure control of the horse.”

He spoke alongside Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz, who has himself ridden horse patrol, and said it looked to him like agents were trying to stay in control of their mounts amid chaotic conditions amid the flood of border crossers.

“Trying to take control of those horses so we do not get in a position where we injure a migrant as they’re trying to make that treacherous trek across that river is probably more important than anything and I’m pretty sure and confident that that’s exactly what was happening,” the chief said.

Since Monday, top Democrats have blasted the agents and demanded repercussions.

That includes Ms. Harris, who has been tapped with solving the international side of the border mess. But she weighed in on the domestic side this week, calling the agents’ actions “horrible.”

“Human beings should never be treated that way. And I’m deeply troubled about it,” Ms. Harris told reporters Tuesday.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.