Republican lawmakers and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are calling on the Biden administration to apologize to Border Patrol agents, after a federal investigation said they were falsely accused of “whipping” illegal immigrants in Texas.
In September last year, the Biden administration was quick to criticize Border Patrol agents on horseback, after some media outlets showed photographs and videos alleging the agents had “whipped” Haitians, who were seeking asylum at the border in Del Rio, Texas. At the time, the administration incorrectly called the agents’ reins “whips,” with President Joe Biden offering a promise saying the agents “will pay” for their actions.
However, after a nine-month investigation, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Personal Responsibility concluded that there was “no evidence” that the agents “struck, intentionally or otherwise, any migrant with their reins,” according to its 511-page report (pdf) released on July 8. Additionally, the agents were not carrying whips at the time.
In response to the CBP findings, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called on Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to issue an apology.
“Biden, Harris, & their allies in the media should all apologize to our brave Border Patrol agents for smearing their reputation,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter on July 8.
McCarthy added, “Rather than disparage the men and women tasked with protecting our border, President Biden should give them the tools they need to secure our border.”
At the time, Harris said there should be “consequences and accountability” for what the agents had done, while comparing their actions to “times of slavery.”
“These Border Patrol officers’ only crime was attempting to secure our southern border against Joe Biden’s directive,” Blackburn wrote on Twitter. “Biden should call and apologize directly to these officers for the damage he has done to them personally and to our country.”
Paxton, a Republican, told Fox News on Friday that the whole incident was “political” in nature.
“It’s really unfortunate for these border agents who’ve given their lives to securing our border and defending Americans,” he said. “And here they are being punished; they should be rewarded.”
“I would expect instead that Joe Biden and some of these political leaders should come out and actually apologize to these guys for what they’ve been through,” Paxton concluded.
Four Border Patrol mounted agents, who have been placed on administrative duties since the start of the investigation, now face disciplinary charges over the incident, according to CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus.
According to the report, one agent “acted in an unprofessional manner by yelling comments related to a migrant’s national origin and sex.”
The report also found agents having “used force or the threat of force to drive migrants back into the Rio Grande River despite the fact they were well within the territorial boundary of the United States.”
Some GOP lawmakers have expressed dissatisfaction with the report, with some calling out Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas specifically.
“The Del Rio Horse Patrol report is nothing more than Secretary Mayorkas’ attempt to cover for President Biden’s shortsighted, thoughtless slander of our Border Patrol agents,” Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas) wrote on Twitter.
“The only corrective action that needs to be taken is for Secretary Mayorkas to resign,” Pfluger added.
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) said the CBP commissioner shouldn’t be “pursuing political games” but instead should focus on securing the U.S. border.
“It has been reported that punishments are being considered for several individual agents—a result that seems politically-motivated in the absence of any true wrongdoing,” Gonzales wrote in a letter to Magnus on July 8
Gonzales pointed to several alarming developments at U.S. borders. Border authorities have apprehended more than 3.2 million illegal aliens since Biden took office, and an estimated 800,000 known gotaways have been reported.
“This obvious lack of control over our borders is what your agency should be focused on right now—not the political persecution of your own personnel,” Gonzales wrote. “The diligence and dedication of our CBP workforce is critical to our national security.
“I urge you to refrain from unmerited disciplinary action against any agent or officer.”