The president and vice president made up their minds as soon as they saw the photos of mounted Border Patrol agents riding behind fleeing Haitian illegal immigrants. With reins flying in the riders’ wake, there were immediate claims that Haitians had been “whipped.”
“It’s horrible what you saw,” President Joe Biden said. “To see people like they did, with horses, running them over, people being strapped, it’s outrageous. I promise you, those people will pay. There is an investigation underway right now and there will be consequences.”
Likewise, Vice President Kamala Harris prejudged our Border Patrol agents.
“As we all know it evoked images of some of the worst moments of our history where that kind of behavior has been used against the indigenous people of our country, has been used against African Americans during times of slavery,” she said.
Yet a report released quietly last month cleared them of charges of whipping or hurting anyone—as a long-delayed investigation determined last month. Where are the apologies?
A little background on the Haitian incident sheds some light on what was clearly a failure on the part of the Biden administration—not the Border Patrol. In May 2021, the Department of Homeland Security granted Haitians Temporary Protected Status (TPS), exempting them from deportation. But it only applied to those Haitians already here in the U.S.—not to new arrivals.
That didn’t deter would-be migrants, many of whom believed America was throwing open its doors to the people of Haiti. Word spread via social media, word of mouth and by the cartel’s recruiters faster than it took you to read this document this far. The result was tens of thousands of Haitians rushing to the southern U.S. border and flooding the small, previously quiet border town of Del Rio. Their numbers swelled and quite literally overran the banks of the Rio Grande. U.S. Border Patrol was completely outnumbered and overwhelmed. The criminal cartels were ecstatic, as this left hundreds of miles of border wide open for smuggling humans, drugs and other contraband.
What our agents needed in the following months was support—not vilification. The lengthy report makes it clear that no migrants were harmed.
“There is no evidence that Border Patrol Agents involved in this incident struck, intentionally or otherwise, any person with their reins,” the report confirms.
Yet after the president’s and vice president’s condemnations and pledges of “consequences,” the agency seems have been determined to find that someone, at some point, did something wrong. So it did.
One agent used derogatory language to a migrant; that same agent walked his horse too close to a child. Agents used an “unmonitored and unrecorded” radio frequency to stay in communication. Four agents have been proposed for discipline actions. There’s one brief section in the investigation report that tells the truth: “The unprecedented situation in Del Rio in September 2021 presented the U.S. Border Patrol with challenges well beyond their traditional scope of work.”
That situation was entirely the fault of the Biden administration, its TPS order for Haitians, and its refusal to acknowledge the crisis at the border it has created.
Publicly crucifying these agents for doing their job not only threatens the morale of all agents, but it also fundamentally undermines our ability to protect America by securing our borders. This report sets a new precedent: Border Patrol agents do not have the authority or responsibility to deter or stop anyone from illegally entering our nation.
Why pay for highly trained law enforcement personnel and all their equipment to patrol our border if all they can do is greet people with a smile and send them on their way?