KEY POINTS

  • In the video, border patrol agents are seen mounted on horses as they chase Haitian migrants
  • House Democrats have reacted to the video with outrage
  • The DHS said it will investigate the matter

Democrats have expressed shock and anger over a video that showed border patrol agents charging at Haitian migrants near the Rio Grande, which is close to Del Rio, Texas.

In the video, border patrol agents are seen mounted on horses as they chase Haitian migrants. One agent is seen swinging what appeared to be a whip or some type of a cord while charging his horse toward Haitian men in the river.

Photos from the scene also showed one agent leaning over his saddle and grabbing the shirt of a migrant who attempted to run. Another agent can be heard telling migrants “this is why your country’s sh**.”

Asked about the matter at a press briefing Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the images were “horrific,” adding that while she has “seen some of the footage,” she doesn’t “have the full context.”

“I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate,” she said, according to USA Today.

“These are human rights abuses, plain and simple,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., wrote on Twitter. “To see these kinds of disturbing, atrocious images at our border should really make every single American’s skin crawl,” she said on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” show.

Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, echoed Omar’s statements, calling the situation “absolutely unacceptable.” Escobar argued that despite the challenging situation in Del Rio, “nothing justifies violence against migrants attempting to seek asylum in our country.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, said the images depicted “a violation of domestic and international law.” Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, also noted that migrants and refugees are “not cattle,” adding that the U.S. “must treat every migrant humanely, no matter the circumstances.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., noted that people seeking asylum in the U.S. “have a right to due process, dignity and respect.”

On Monday, U.S. officials confirmed that more than 6,000 Haitian migrants were expelled from a refugee encampment under a bridge in the border city, the Associated Press reported.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday afternoon denied the use of whips among agents, stating that they used long reigns to control horses while on patrol.

Later in the day, the DHS called the footage “extremely troubling.” The agency said a full investigation will take place so it can “define the appropriate disciplinary actions to be taken.”

Mayorkas said it was a “challenging and heartbreaking situation.” He, however, warned that coming to the United States illegally will only result in migrants “endangering” themselves as they will be returned to their home countries.

“Your journey will not succeed,” he added.

Haitian migrants, part of a group of over 10,000 people staying in an encampment on the US side of the border at Del Rio, Texas, cross the Rio Grande river to get food and water in Mexico. Haitian migrants, part of a group of over 10,000 people staying in an encampment on the US side of the border at Del Rio, Texas, cross the Rio Grande river to get food and water in Mexico. Photo: AFP / PAUL RATJE