Texas Gov. Greg Abbott promised Sunday to hire the mounted border agents under federal investigation if the Biden administration disciplines them over an incident involving Haitian migrants.
President Biden vowed Friday that “those people will pay,” referring to images of agents on horseback flipping their reins as they sought to block migrants Sept. 19 from crossing the Rio Grande near Del Rio, Texas, fueling an outcry over agents “whipping” migrants.
Mr. Abbott told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that “if he takes any action against them whatsoever — I have worked side-by-side with those border patrol agents.
“I want them to know something,” the Republican governor said. “If they are at risk of losing their job [from] a president who is abandoning his duty to secure the border, you have a job in the state of Texas. I will hire you to help Texas secure our border.”
He pushed back against the much-disputed narrative, saying the officers were using their reins to control the horses.
“First, they wouldn’t have been in that situation had the Biden administration enforced the immigration laws and secured the border in the first place,” Mr. Abbott said.
“Second, as you know, Chris, the person who took those pictures said that the characterization that the Democrats have made about the Border Patrol using them as whips, whipping people who were coming across the border is false. They were simply maneuvering horses,” he said.
He referred to photographer Paul Ratje, who told KTSM-TV in El Paso that the photos may have been “misconstrued,” adding that, “he was swinging it, but I didn’t see him actually whip someone with it,” referring to the reins.
The agents shown in viral photos and video footage have been placed on administrative duty pending the investigation.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the investigation would be based on the facts.
“Whether these individual Border Patrol agents on horseback complied with our policies and training, or whether they did not, is the subject of an investigation,” he said on Fox News on Sunday. “And that investigation is independent, and the outcome will be determined by the facts and nothing more.”
The Texas Legislature has approved nearly $3 billion for border security to deter illegal immigration in reaction to what Mr. Abbott described as the Biden administration’s “dereliction of duty.”
“The Biden administration cares far more about people who are not in this country than he does of the people, American citizens who live in this country,” said the governor. “And I’m going to step up and support the citizens of the United States of America.”