Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday that any mistreatment of a migrant is unacceptable and will be addressed with “full force” amid the uproar over border agents on horseback who wrangled Haitians and others near makeshift camps in Del Rio, Texas.
“One cannot weaponize a horse to aggressively attack a child. That is unacceptable. That is not what our policies and our training require,” he told CNN.
Mr. Mayorkas said he directed the Office of Professional Responsibility to be on-site in Del Rio full time.
Investigators are looking into footage of the incident in which agents appeared to use horse reins as whips.
“That investigation is underway and it will be conducted swiftly, and the public needs and deserves to know its results,” the secretary said.
“I was horrified by what I saw,” he added, reacting to footage of an agent seeming to berate a migrant about his country. “I’m going to let the investigation run its course, but the pictures that I observed troubled me profoundly. That defies all of the values that we seek to instill in our people.”
He said he saw other Department of Homeland Security employees working in line with training by assisting vulnerable persons under a bridge in Del Rio.
Thousands of migrants are huddled at the site, prompting a surge of agents and officers to the Rio Grande River to process people and conduct removal flights.
Mr. Mayorkas said they’ve moved 4,000 migrants from under the bridge and will move more “very quickly.” He said the U.S. is repatriating some individuals to Haiti and other countries.
“We expect to see dramatic change in the next 48 to 96 hours,” he said.
Pressed on the administration’s reluctance to call the situation a crisis, Mr. Mayorkas called it a heartbreaking situation in which migrants take a perilous journey that will not be successful.
“I’m not focused on the words that people employ, I’m focused on the needs of the migrants, the execution of our responsibilities in addressing the situation under the bridge in Del Rio. That is what I’m focused on,” he said.