White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that images appearing to show a U.S. Border Patrol agent chasing Haitian migrants with a whip are “horrific.”
“I have seen some of the footage. I don’t have the full context. I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate, but I don’t have additional details,” she told reporters at a White House briefing. “I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it’s acceptable or appropriate.”
However, when pressed on whether the agent or agents involved should be fired, Ms. Psaki declined to say if there should be consequences for the actions.
“Of course, they should never be able to do it again,” Ms. Psaki said, saying the footage was “obviously horrific.”
The images show a border agent on horseback chasing Haitian immigrants near the Rio Grande close to Del Rio, Texas. In one photo an agent appears to lean over and grab the shirt of a man trying to escape. The agent swings what appears to be a whip as he charges toward the men crossing the river.
The Department of Homeland Security has pledged to investigate the incident.
In a statement, the agency said it “does not tolerate the abuse of migrants in our custody and we take these allegations very seriously.”
The statement said the Custom and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility and the DHS Office of Inspector General are investigating the matter.
Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters Monday that it’s “assuming the facts” to say the agent was holding a whip. Mr. Mayorkas said the agent could be holding a long rein for the horse.
However, some on Capitol Hill are demanding an immediate investigation.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota Democrat, called the border patrol’s actions “human rights abuses, plain and simple. Cruel, inhumane, and a violation of domestic and international law.”