Politics

DHS chief Mayorkas sidelines agents during investigation into images of rough treatment of migrants


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 on Wednesday.

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.

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.

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 Mr. Mayorkas’ boss, Vice President Kamala Harris, who, along with the secretary, is in charge of solving the border surge and said she planned to speak to Mr. Mayorkas about it.

She called the agents’ actions “horrible.”

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

 




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