- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Top Democrats, who had been strikingly silent about the illegal immigrant camp that built up on U.S. soil, are now lashing out at the Border Patrol agents assigned to handle the situation, accusing them of abusing the Haitian migrants streaming into the U.S.

Images of agents on horseback trying to block Haitians from reaching the camp, some seemingly deploying reins in the effort, reverberated through Democratic circles Monday.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, the top Democrat on the subcommittee that handles the Border Patrol’s funding, pronounced herself “deeply disturbed.”

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, demanded agents be disciplined for “horrific and disturbing” behavior.

“This mistreatment runs counter to our American values and cannot be tolerated,” he said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed to have Congress investigate.

SEE ALSO: DHS chief Mayorkas pledges investigation into horseback incident in Texas

The camp the Haitian migrants have established in Del Rio, Texas, has become a Rorschach test for the immigration debate, with congressional Democrats seeing the intrusion as a cry for help, while Republicans — and the Biden administration itself — say it’s an illegal incursion that cannot be tolerated.

Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz, who has himself ridden horse patrol before, told reporters in Texas on Monday that the agents were likely trying to maintain control of their horses amid chaotic conditions of the flood of border crossers.

Trying to take control of those horses so we do not get in a position where we injure a migrant as they’re trying to make that treacherous trek across that river is probably more important than anything and I’m pretty sure and confident that that’s exactly what was happening,” the chief said.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas backed him up, saying it appeared agents were trying “to ensure control of the horse.”

He vowed a probe of the matter.

The Haitian migrants have exposed a deep fissure in American immigration policy.

SEE ALSO: White House: Images of border agents with a whip ‘obviously horrific’

The congressional Democrats see them as asylum-seekers, fleeing rough conditions at home. Republicans see them as regular migrants gaming the system with iffy asylum claims.

Many of them haven’t lived in Haiti for years, but rather have been in South America, working in Chile or Brazil, and have streamed north because they figured they had a better chance of gaining a foothold in the U.S. under the Biden administration.

Worried that leniency might entice still more people to attempt the trip, Homeland Security is using pandemic expulsion powers to deport some of the migrants back to Haiti. As many as three flights a day will fly from Texas to Port-au-Prince.

That’s still not enough capacity to account for the newcomers, who in just a few days last week sent the migrant camp soaring from about 1,000 people to 16,000.

The deportations have enraged immigrant-rights activists, who have labeled them illegal and inhumane. They question how Mr. Mayorkas can send people back to a country that just a month ago he labeled so broken that he granted a deportation amnesty to some 100,000 Haitians in the U.S. without solid legal presence.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide