US Border Patrol said their ‘whips’ in pictures of Haitian migrants were reins

The images spread like wildfire. Over the weekend, US Customs and Border Protection agents in Del Rio, Texas, were captured brandishing what appeared to be whips to subdue a group of Haitian migrants attempting to cross into US soil.

Immediately, people drew historic parallels between the photos and slave patrol militias of yesteryear—groups of white slaveholders and non-slaveholders who would patrol areas looking for slaves out at night not carrying passes from their masters. Often on horseback, the men were authorized to search slave quarters for weapons or gatherings and could legally act as judge, jury and executioner, administrating lashings at will.

Migrants interact with Border Patrol agents- Getty Images

In response to the recent pictures, the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees CBP, issued a news release labeling them “extremely troubling.” The agency also said it launched an investigation “which will be conducted swiftly [and] will define the appropriate disciplinary actions to be taken.

There are very few modern-day instances where the use of a whip is permitted: Rihanna lyrics, Indiana Jones cosplay and that one Britney Spears video for “Work B**ch.” Certainly not wielded by federal agents in a country famous for a statue meant to embrace immigrants that’s adorned with a plaque that reads in part: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

With the images blowing up the Twittersphere, CBP went into damage control mode, claiming agents acted “within policy.” The purported whips weren’t whips at all, you see. They were merely reins — strands of leather or nylon attached to a horse’s bridle usually at the mouth bit — used to give it commands (ask for a livelier speed, signal a turn, request a halt, and so on.) Said reins just happened to be extra, extra long and were perhaps maneuvered in a whipping motion toward migrants who were armed solely with styrofoam containers carrying take-out from neighboring Ciudad Acuña.

To borrow from an old SNL sketch, yeah, that’s the ticket!

Spin is one thing; optics is a whole ‘nother. And this entire, sorry attempt at damage control simply reminded me of a phrase often repeated by my late father: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.

Still, why not give the agency the benefit of the doubt? Intrigued by the oversize reins, I reached out to CBP directly and asked if they had clear parameters for the optimal length of mounted agents’ reins, and if agents’ training specifies which cases (if any) allow for them to be used for anything other than horse control.

Surprisingly, I got a response, though it wasn’t the one I was hoping for. Headquarters Branch Chief Justin Long said the agency didn’t have any “additional updates to provide” on the matter and instead referred me to a boilerplate statement: “The Department of Homeland Security does not tolerate the abuse of migrants in our custody and we take these allegations very seriously. US Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the matter and has alerted the DHS Office of Inspector General. In addition, Secretary Mayorkas has directed that personnel from the Office of Professional Responsibility be on site full-time to ensure that the responsibilities of DHS personnel are executed consistent with applicable policies and training and the Department’s values.”

When Mayorkas, the first immigrant and first Hispanic American to lead DHS, accepted President-elect Biden’s nomination last November, he called on the memory of his late parents, who in 1960 arrived in the US as refugees following the Cuban Revolution.

“They cherished our democracy and were intensely proud to become United States Citizens,” Mayorkas, who termed the distinction to lead the bureau “the honor of a lifetime,” said.

During the heartfelt speech, Mayorkas also highlighted the department’s most noble mission: “To help keep us safe and to advance our proud history as a country of welcome.” Mr Secretary: It’s time to put your money where your mouth bit is.

5 thoughts on “US Border Patrol said their ‘whips’ in pictures of Haitian migrants were reins

  1. The created crisis at the Border ( Biden Created ) & Biden continues his diversionary tactics. Blames everyone else for the problems . It was President Trump that created the problem yet it was Biden that eliminated policies that had the border under control. Then he diverted from the Afghan crisis created by him !!! Does not want to talk about it . again blame President Trump !!! there is now the rush to judgement by Biden & his administration that the border agents were whipping Haitians yet does not mention one word that he created the problem to begin with !!!Everyone ones that he would rather blame the Border agents on horseback . Does not accept blame for anything that he has failed at !!! Just plays the blame game !!!

    1. It’s Biden problem and these wonderful illegals took control of a bus so these are the people you think should be entering our country see how well they appreciate goback we don’t need your type if you really want to be a citizen of our country go through the process become a citizen love our country and respect our rules and laws and stop asking for a country to take care of you take care of yourself that what hard working Americans do and stop expecting to betaken care of

  2. Split reins on riding horses are often eight feet long, and reins on trail horses are usually nine feet long. The reins shown in the videos are not necessarily extra long, as the reporter would have known if he had asked any nearby equestrians.

  3. We need to tell Biden that he needs to be punsh for what he did in Afghanistan ,like the killing of 13 Americans soldiers that die for nothing and I mean for nothing These soldiered where sent by Biden and his administration to protect the people of Afghanistan . Biden and his Hitchmen sat back in watch everything that happened. Then abandoned the real people the American citizen, and the people that help the American trcoop there. Biden should be Court Marshall for death of these soldiers and the innocent civilians that die in the drone attack and be fine guilty penalties is dealth.

  4. These news people obviously know little too nothing about horses or riders…l doubt they have ever ridden a horse.
    They need to do some real checking before
    Reporting.

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