Sep 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Abbott says he'll hire Border Patrol agents on horseback if they're fired

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday defended the actions of U.S. Border Patrol agents who charged at Haitian migrants on horseback, blaming the Biden administration for not preventing them from crossing the border.

Why it matters: The Republican governor's remarks on "Fox News Sunday" comes amid increased backlash over the incident, with President Biden saying, "I promise ... those people will pay,” and the Department of Homeland Security launching an investigation.

  • Nevertheless, should the agents face termination, "you have a job in the state of Texas,” Abbott told host Chris Wallace. “I will hire you to help Texas secure our border.”

Catch up quick: Last week, footage surfaced of Border Patrol agents charging their horses at migrants in Del Rio, who were attempting to make their way to an encampment under the international bridge, Axios' Shawna Chen writes.

  • DHS later issued a statement saying the agency "does not tolerate the abuse of migrants in our custody."
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a briefing that border agents in Del Rio would no longer be using horses.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said at the time that the agents did not use "whips" on the migrants, as photos and resulting reaction suggested, though questions have remained about whether they were "whipping" ("swinging," "flicking") their leather reins toward them.

  • Freelance photojournalist Paul Ratje, who took the Sept. 19 photos in question, told local station KTSM: “I’ve never seen them whip anyone.” Ratje added: “He was swinging it, but it can be misconstrued when you’re looking at the picture.”
  • Al Jazeera English journalist John Holman, who also captured images from that day, told NPR: "There was a lot of talk about whips and lassos. What we actually saw was them using long reins on their horses and flicking them toward people."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information provided by the journalists at the border.

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