Border Patrol horse unit 'alive and well' in Del Rio despite Psaki suspension claim

·3 min read

Border Patrol’s horse patrol unit in Del Rio, Texas, is “alive and well,” operating daily despite a White House claim that mounted agents had been pulled from their saddles following false abuse allegations, two officials told the Washington Examiner.

Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz told federal law enforcement officials this week that agents assigned to the equestrian unit in the Del Rio region are “still operating despite the alleged ban Biden officials imposed,” according to a senior U.S. border official.

“The only change that was made was that they were pulled away from tasking on the river. No horse patrol in any sector has been disbanded. They're still alive and well in Del Rio, just working nonriver areas,” the person said.

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The use of the horses comes one week after White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that horse patrol agents had been pulled from their duties after pictures surfaced of agents encountering Haitian migrants on the banks of the Rio Grande in Del Rio a week earlier.

“I can also convey to you that [Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas] conveyed to civil rights leaders earlier this morning that we would no longer be using horses in Del Rio,” Psaki said on Sept. 23.

Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency that oversees the Border Patrol, opened an investigation in mid-September after images of agents pursuing migrants on horseback led to mistaken speculation that they whipped the border-crossers.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection mounted officers attempt to contain migrants as they cross the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Criticism has been fueled by the images that went viral this week of Border Patrol agents on horseback using aggressive tactics against the migrants. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez) Felix Marquez/AP

President Joe Biden claimed that people were “being strapped” in an “outrageous” way and vowed that “those people will pay.” Mayorkas said he was “horrified” by the images but has since admitted that he reacted “without having seen the images” before commenting to the media.

Border Patrol union and former DHS officials from the Trump administration are skeptical that CBP’s investigation into the matter can be fair given that the DHS and CBP superiors of investigators called it abuse before any investigation was undertaken.

Agents in Border Patrol’s horse patrol program are tasked with working in “challenging terrain, environmentally protected, and privately owned sensitive geographic locations.”

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“The Horse Patrol are the most viable, and, in some cases, the only option for the U.S. Border Patrol to enter into regions inaccessible by any other means of patrol, such as 4x4 vehicles or All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). Without the Horse Patrol, these areas would remain unpatrolled and susceptible to transnational criminal activity,” CBP’s website states.

In a statement provided after the publication of this article, CBP said: “Nothing has changed. The agents involved are on administrative duties. Horse Patrol Units continue to be deployed based on operational assessments.”

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Tags: News, Border Patrol, Haiti, Texas

Original Author: Anna Giaritelli

Original Location: Border Patrol horse unit 'alive and well' in Del Rio despite Psaki suspension claim

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