Sep 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

DHS temporarily suspends use of horse patrol in Del Rio

 U.S. Border Patrol agents watch as Haitian immigrant families cross the Rio Grande from Mexico into Del Rio, Texas on September 23, 2021,
U.S. Border Patrol agents watch as Haitian immigrant families cross the Rio Grande from Mexico into Del Rio, Texas on Sept. 23, 2021. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday temporarily suspended the use of horse patrol in Del Rio, Texas a DHS spokesperson confirmed.

Why it matters: The suspension comes after images showing border patrol agents reportedly whipping at and charging their horses at migrants surfaced earlier in the week, prompting widespread criticism of the Biden administration's handling of the crisis at the border.

Driving the news: "We have ceased the use of the horse patrol in Del Rio temporarily," a DHS spokesperson said. "We'll prioritize other methods for identifying individuals who might be in medical distress."

  • Administration officials and congressional Democrats have condemned the treatment of Haitian migrants and asylum-seekers living in a temporary encampment in Del Rio.
  • Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the incident involving horse patrol and has alerted the DHS Office of Inspector General, Axios previously reported.
  • Worth noting: AFP photographer Paul Ratje took the photos and later told KTSM he didn’t witness agents using reins as whips. Another reporter on the scene, Martha Pskowski of the El Paso Times, said that reins were swung like a whip by at least one agent.

The big picture: U.S. authorities began deporting hundreds of migrants back to Haiti on Sunday.

  • The special envoy for Haiti on Wednesday resigned from his position, writing in a resignation letter obtained by PBS that he "will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees."

Go deeper: Photos show Border Patrol whipping at migrants from horseback

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include comments from multiple media outlets who were at the scene on what they witnessed happen.

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