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4 Examination of the treatment of Haitians by U.S. border agency workers

By on July 9, 2022 0

Four U.S. Customs and Border Protection workers face disciplinary review for their treatment of Haitian migrants they sought to push back across the Rio Grande using horses last September, CBP officials said Friday as the agency released a report on the widely photographed incident.

CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus told a news conference that the disciplinary process related to the Sept. 19 incident was ongoing and he did not identify the employees.

Reuters witnesses at the time saw officers on horseback wearing cowboy hats blocking the paths of migrants, and an officer deploying lariat-like horse reins, which he swung near the face of a man as the man carried a bag of food across the Rio Grande to a makeshift camp in the United States. The footage sparked a strong nationwide reaction and calls for an investigation.

Magnus added that the report said no migrants had been hit with the reins that officers had photographed swinging in their direction. But the report described inappropriate behavior by officers toward Haitians, including shouting profanity and insults related to a migrant’s national origin, and the use of unnecessary force against migrants attempting to return to Haiti. United States with food.

The investigation revealed that an officer on horseback grabbed a man and turned him in a widely photographed incident, which took place near a sprawling riverside encampment in Del Rio, Texas, which was formed after the rapid arrival of thousands of Haitian migrants in the United States. Border of Mexico.

According to the report, an officer “acted in a dangerous manner by chasing the individual he had yelled at along the edge of the river, forcing his horse to narrowly maneuver around a small child.”

Lack of clear command

The incident began, according to the report, when officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety, also at the scene, requested assistance from the US Border Patrol. A lack of clear command led officers to improperly follow DPS instructions to prevent migrants from crossing the river back to the United States.

Migrants frequently crossed into Mexico to bring back food and supplies that were in short supply at the makeshift encampment.

Lawyers and migrants suing the government for their treatment during the incident said the Haitian man pictured in the widely seen photos described the officer on horseback grabbing his neck and only releasing it when the horse was about to kick. trample it.

He called the experience humiliating in a court filing.

“We are already taking steps to ensure that something like the one that happened in Del Rio doesn’t happen again,” Magnus said at the press conference.

FILE – US Border Patrol agents contain a group of migrants on the banks of the Rio Grande after they passed from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico to Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021.

Many expelled

Of the roughly 15,000 Haitians who arrived at the US-Mexico border in September, around 8,000 were quickly deported in the weeks that followed under a COVID-era order known as Title 42.

The findings come as US President Joe Biden, a Democrat, grapples both operationally and politically with a record number of attempts to cross the southwestern border with Mexico. Republicans have criticized Biden for trying to reverse some of the hardline immigration policies of his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, while some members of Biden’s own party have said he is not doing enough to protect vulnerable migrants.

Border Patrol apprehended nearly 223,000 migrants at the southwestern border in May, the highest monthly total on record. Haitians made up about 7,700 of that number, with several thousand more attempting to cross at entry points without valid authorization.

On Thursday, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he had authorized the Texas National Guard and state authorities to “apprehend” migrants and transport them across the border to a port of entry with Mexico.

In a statement, the state National Guard said it was “working with our interagency partners to respond to illegal immigration.”

Some migrants on the bus

Abbott’s order was the latest in a series of state immigration crackdowns that previously included busing migrants out of state to destinations like Washington.

Magnus said CBP has a “shared interest” with Texas “in maintaining a safe and orderly humane immigration process” at the border, but said issues arise when a state “takes action.” unilateral”.

CBP recently said it would investigate whether anyone in the agency sold unofficial commemorative coins depicting the widely circulated photograph of the incident under investigation. Magnus said in an earlier statement that the “hateful images” on the “deeply offensive” pieces angered him and distracted him from essential Border Patrol work.