US Border Patrol Agents Didn’t Whip Anyone at Border, Despite Reports: Internal Review

By Charlotte Cuthbertson
Charlotte Cuthbertson
Charlotte Cuthbertson
Senior Reporter
Charlotte Cuthbertson is a senior reporter with The Epoch Times who primarily covers border security and the opioid crisis.
July 8, 2022 Updated: July 8, 2022

Nine months after horse patrol agents were accused of “whipping” illegal immigrants at the border in Del Rio, Texas, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Chris Magnus said an internal review found “no evidence Border Patrol agents struck any person, intentionally or otherwise.”

“The investigation concluded that there were failures at multiple levels of the agency, a lack of appropriate policies and training, and unprofessional and dangerous behavior by several individual agents,” states the Office of Professional Review report.

Magnus said during a press conference on July 8 that four agents are facing disciplinary charges, some related to “deeply offensive conduct.”

“One Border Patrol agent who was found to have used denigrating and inappropriate language and to have maneuvered his horse unsafely near a child,” CBP said in a statement.

Magnus declined to provide more detail on the pending disciplinary charges, citing “due process.”

“Despite the actions taken by certain agents, there was no evidence any migrant was forced to return to Mexico or denied entry to the United States,” Magnus said.

Magnus said agents are now prohibited from “twirling or spinning” their split reins as a distancing technique or in crowd control situations.

Magnus said the report took so long, in part, because the U.S. Attorneys office took months before declining to prosecute the agents involved.

Epoch Times Photo
A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop illegal immigrants from entering the United States, in Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 19, 2021. (Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images)

The Biden administration was quick to condemn mounted Border Patrol agents last September as media outlets showed video clips and photographs and accused the agents of “whipping” Haitians after they crossed illegally into the United States; incorrectly calling their reins “whips.”

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN on Sept. 21, 2021, two days after the incident: “I was horrified by what I saw. We will let the investigation run its course, but the pictures that I observed troubled me profoundly.”

On the same day, he wrote on Twitter that the results of the DHS investigation “will be available by the end of next week & I’ve committed to making the results public.”

He said the agents involved had been placed on administrative duties.

On Sept. 23, 2021, then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced that all horse patrol units in the Del Rio Sector had been suspended.

President Joe Biden said: “To see people treated like they did, horses barely running over, people being strapped … it’s outrageous.

“I promise you, those people will pay. There will be an investigation underway now and there will be consequences. There will be consequences,” Biden said during a news conference on Sept. 24, 2021.

Epoch Times Photo
Illegal immigrants take supplies back and forth between Acuña, Mexico, and the United States (far side) across the Rio Grande, the international boundary with Mexico, in Acuña, Mexico, on Sept. 20, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

The incident occurred as up to 30,000 mostly Haitian illegal immigrants gathered under the international bridge in Del Rio, creating a primitive campsite while they waited to be processed by Border Patrol. The camp was on the bank of the Rio Grande, through which the illegal immigrants waded back and forth to obtain supplies from the Mexican city of Acuña.

“We had a lot of medical emergencies. We had 10 women give birth, there was a miscarriage. We had diabetic emergencies. Some heart issues, dehydration. There was no COVID testing, of course,” said Jon Anfinsen, head of the Del Rio Sector Border Patrol Council.

He said the horse patrol agents were directed to stop people from crossing the river illegally into the United States the day the incident occurred.

Magnus said the request had come from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Epoch Times Photo
Thousands of illegal immigrants, mostly Haitians, live in a primitive, makeshift camp under the international bridge that spans the Rio Grande between the U.S. and Mexico while waiting to be detained and processed by Border Patrol, in Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 21, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told The Epoch Times at the time that horse patrol agents are trained to use their reins to keep illegal immigrants away from their horses.

“The horse patrol agents, under the administration, are trained to ensure the safety of the migrants, to keep them away from the horses, because the horses can harm people—they can inadvertently step on them, they can rear up, they can kick them,” Judd said.

“And so agents have to keep the migrants away from the horses for their own protection. And so they will use the reins, to twirl the reins, so that they will stay away from the horses. But they do not use those reins to lash out, to try to strike people. Those agents did not use those reins in any way, shape, or form to try to strike anybody.”

Two months later, DHS provided an update stating that the investigation had first been referred to DHS’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

“The OIG declined to investigate and referred the matter back to CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility,” the DHS stated on Nov. 16, 2021.

According to DHS policy, the OIG would have taken up the investigation if it regarded the incident as “serious misconduct.”

In February, Anfinsen confirmed that two of the horse patrol agents involved were still on desk duty.

Charlotte Cuthbertson
Senior Reporter
Charlotte Cuthbertson is a senior reporter with The Epoch Times who primarily covers border security and the opioid crisis.