DHS IG Won’t Probe Horse-Mounted Agents in Haitian Migrant Clash

DHS IG Won't Probe Horse-Mounted Agents in Haitian Migrant Clash horse mounted agents in del rio, texas, ride into the water to turn illegal immigrants back across the river to mexico Liberal media claimed this photo showed horse-mounted Border Patrol agents using horse whips on Haitian migrants, a claim that was debunked by the AP photographer. (Felix Marquez/AP)

By Fran Beyer | Tuesday, 16 November 2021 12:18 PM

The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general has reportedly declined to investigate the September conduct of horse-mounted border patrol officers in Del Rio, Texas, who chased Haitian migrants trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

The inspector general's office has referred the case back to the DHS Office of Professional Responsibility, which "immediately commenced investigative work, including its review of videos and photographs and the interview of witnesses, employees, and [Customs and Border Protection] leadership," a DHS statement said, McClatchy reported.

"DHS remains committed to conducting a thorough, independent, and objective investigation," the agency statement said, the news outlet reported. "DHS will share information, as available, consistent with the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and individuals' privacy."

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had promised a quick investigation after pictures and video of the Sept. 19 incident surfaced, triggering immediate White House outrage. He also placed the officers on administrative duties and alerted the agency's inspector general, McClatchy reported.

"There will be consequences. It's an embarrassment," President Joe Biden said at the time. "It's wrong. It sends the wrong message around the world. It sends the wrong message at home. It's simply not who we are."

But some Republicans defended the horse patrol and questioned the Biden administration's decision to investigate the agents. They also slammed Biden for his comments ahead of the results of the investigation.

DHS said employees at the heart of the probe will be given "due process" if disciplinary action is recommended, McClatchy reported.

"The disciplinary process, which is separate from the fact-finding investigation, is subject to certain timelines established in CBP's labor-management agreement with the employees' union of the United States Border Patrol," the statement said, McClatchy reported. "Once completed, the results of the investigation will be provided to CBP management to determine whether disciplinary action is appropriate and, if so, the specific discipline to be imposed."

The ongoing Office of Professional Responsibility investigation might share initial findings with the U.S. attorney's office "to alert federal prosecutors of the facts of the case and ensure that administrative actions do not inadvertently compromise any potential criminal investigation," according to the statement, McClatchy reported.

At the time of the incident, about 15,000 migrants, most of them Haitian, were camped at the site in Del Rio; the encampment was cleared Sept. 24, the news outlet noted.