Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas revealed Wednesday that Border Patrol agents accused of whipping migrants to prevent them from crossing the US border have been assigned to desk duty — while the incident is investigated with “tremendous speed and with tremendous force.”
Mayorkas addressed the images of the agents in Del Rio, Texas, which he said “correctly and necessarily were met with our nation’s horror,” while testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee on Capitol Hill.
“They do not reflect who we are as a country, nor do we think they reflect who the United States custom border protection is,” he said.
Mayorkas said the agency is investigating the images, which appeared to show agents using whips to prevent Haitian migrants from crossing the Rio Grande to reach an encampment set up under a Texas bridge. He said that the probe is being conducted with “tremendous speed and with tremendous force,” and the findings would be available in “days, not weeks.”
“I have ordered an investigation to be conducted of the events that are captured in those images,” he said. Pending the outcome of the investigation, the agents have been prohibited from interacting with migrants, he said.
“We have ensured that the individuals during the pendency of the investigation are not conducting law enforcement duties to interact with migrants, but rather are conducting only administrative duties,” he said.
Mayorkas previously denied that whips were used to keep migrants on the Mexico side of the river, claiming that agents use long reins to control their horses.
Meanwhile, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz has blamed the difficulty of distinguishing migrants from smugglers as people move back and forth near the river.