Biden Says Border Agents Who Menaced Migrants ‘Will Pay’
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden called scenes of Border Patrol agents menacing Haitian migrants at the Texas border “horrible” and vowed those responsible “will pay” amid growing criticism from his own party.
“To see people treated like they did, horses nearly running them over and people being strapped -- it’s outrageous,” Biden told reporters Friday following remarks on coronavirus booster shots at the White House. “I promise you, those people will pay. They will be -- there’s an investigation under way now, and there will be consequences.”
About 30,000 migrants have arrived in the Texas border town of Del Rio since Sept. 9, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters at a briefing, and about 12,400 will be allowed into the U.S. while their asylum applications are considered by immigration courts.
About 8,000 voluntarily returned to Mexico and another 5,000 are being “assessed” by immigration authorities, he said. The fate of the other 5,000 wasn’t immediately clear, but the U.S. has already flown nearly two thousand of the Haitians to Haiti under a provision of U.S. law that allows migrants to be quickly deported for health concerns.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility began an inquiry into the episode of agents menacing Haitians to determine possible disciplinary action. A video showed asylum-seeking migrants shielding their heads as agents on horseback appeared to brandish their reins like whips.
In the video, one agent rode up to a group of migrants, some carrying children, and insulted them and Haiti. A woman and child rushed to get out of his way. Other migrants fell into the river as the horsemen advanced.
Biden said the scene was “simply not who we are.”
“There will be consequences,” Biden said. “It’s an embarrassment -- it’s beyond an embarrassment, it’s dangerous, it’s wrong, it sends the wrong message around the world, it sends the wrong message at home.”
Democratic lawmakers including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have criticized the administration’s handling of thousands of Haitian migrants massed near Del Rio.
Mayorkas said that all migrants have been cleared from a squalid camp under a bridge in Del Rio. The department’s set up climate-controlled tents to house them instead, he said, and is providing for “basic needs” including water, food and clothing.
“The department does not tolerate any mistreatment of any migrant,” he said. The investigation of the behavior of the horseback agents is continuing, he said.
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