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AOC, Ilhan Omar denounce Border Patrol whipping at Haitian migrants as a 'stain on our country' and 'human rights abuses'

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A US Border Patrol agent on horseback grabbing a Haitian migrant.
A US Border Patrol agent on horseback trying to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas, on Sunday. Paul Ratje/Getty Images
  • Videos showed border agents whipping their reins at Haitian migrants near the US-Mexico border.

  • Migrants have tried to enter the US as Haiti faces endemic poverty, violence, and political turmoil.

  • Haiti's president was assassinated in July, and an earthquake killed over 2,000 in Haiti last month.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota on Monday said that video footage of Border Patrol agents on horseback whipping at Haitian migrants attempting to cross the US-Mexico border showed "human rights abuses."

"These are human rights abuses, plain and simple. Cruel, inhumane, and a violation of domestic and international law," Omar tweeted. "This needs a course correction and the issuance of a clear directive on how to humanely process asylums seekers at our border."

Echoing these sentiments, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York also used Twitter to denounce Border Patrol.

"It doesn't matter if a Democrat or Republican is President, our immigration system is designed for cruelty towards and dehumanization of immigrants," Ocasio-Cortez said. "Immigration should not be a crime, and its criminalization is a relatively recent invention. This is a stain on our country."

The incident occurred over the weekend near Del Rio, Texas, as Haitian migrants sought to wade across the Rio Grande. Video footage from Al Jazeera showed agents on horseback using their reins as whips as they charged the migrants and sought to push them back, with one agent yelling, "This is why your country's shit because you use your women for this."

US Customs and Border Protection didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

Many people have fled Haiti, which has faced myriad challenges for years, in recent months as the embattled country struggled with ongoing violence, poverty, and political strife.

Haiti has had a particularly chaotic year on account of the political turmoil brought on by the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, which was closely followed by an earthquake in August that killed more than 2,000 people.

Thousands of migrants have gathered in a makeshift camp under a bridge in Del Rio.

Homeland Security Chief Alejandro Mayorkas traveled to Del Rio on Monday as local and federal officials moved to deport or relocate the migrants to detention centers.

"We have seen a significant influx of Haitian migrants in Del Rio, TX. But we are surging resources, and @DHSgov is taking a multi-prong approach to this," Mayorkas tweeted Sunday. "We've surged approximately 600 agents so that we can gain complete control. We are moving people rapidly to other processing centers to ensure safety and security."

"We have sent a very clear message early on, in light of the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic, that the border is not open, and people should not take the perilous journey here," Mayorkas added.

Deportation flights back to Haiti began Sunday.

Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said during a press conference Sunday that 3,300 migrants had been relocated in the past few days.

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