The head of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Friday said that a report on the investigation into the conduct of Border Patrol agents who were falsely accused of whipping Haitian migrants last year will come out in the next several weeks.
CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus was speaking in a press call on stopping products made by forced labor in China into the U.S. and was asked about the ongoing investigation that was launched late last year into horseback agents who were accused by a number of Democrats – including President Biden – of having whipped Haitian migrants crossing the river.
Magnus indicated that the question was off-limits for the topic of the call, but gave a short answer anyway.
“I will merely indicate that the report that you’re speaking about, we anticipate to release within the next several weeks. We are following the administrative processes that protect the due process rights of the involved employees,” he said. “But we’re going to let it go at that.”
Magnus, who took his position earlier this year, has not otherwise commented on the investigation or on the conduct of the agents – who were dispatched to the Del Rio River amid the Haitian migrant crisis in September last year.
Images circulated on Twitter of the agents trying to block migrants from entering the U.S., and in one case grabbing a migrants’ shirt. The controversy escalated as some media outlets and Democratic lawmakers misidentified the agents’ split reins, which they use and twirl to control and direct the horse — and falsely claimed the agents were using “whips” on the migrants.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas initially backed the agents, but later changed his message, saying that the images “troubled me profoundly” and adding that “one cannot weaponize a horse” against migrants.
Mayorkas announced that horses would no longer be used in Del Rio, and the agents were shifted to desk duty pending the investigation into their conduct. He would go on to promise that the investigation would be “completed in days, if not weeks.” It has still not been completed.
Vice President Harris and President Biden also weighed in against the agents, with Biden increasing the pressure on the besieged agents by repeating the false claims of whipping, and also previewed what he hoped would be the outcome of the investigation.
“To see people treated like they did, horses barely running over, people being strapped – it’s outrageous,” Biden told reporters, making a whipping motion with his hand.
“I promise you, those people will pay,” he said of the agents. “There will be an investigation underway now and there will be consequences. There will be consequences.”
The Office of Inspector General declined to press criminal charges against the agents and the investigation has since moves to DHS’ Office of Professional Responsibility. Fox News reported this week that DHS is preparing to discipline “multiple” agents over the matter — although it is not clear on what offense.
The agents are expected to be hit with “administrative violations.” Fox is told that DHS will be putting forward their proposals for discipline to the agents, and the agents will then have a chance to respond and either accept the discipline, or fight it.
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