CBP chief: Horse patrol units in Del Rio were ‘unprofessional’, shouldn’t have been part of crowd control

Equestrian officers also accused of tracking Texas DPS operation

McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) – Ten months after mounted U.S. Border Patrol officers were accused of abusing migrants under the international bridge in Del Rio, Texas, the agency’s chief said that an investigation had revealed flaws in the officers’ crowd control methods. and said they engaged in “deeply offensive behavior”, but said they did not “whip” the migrants.

US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus also said border agents should not have participated in the operation at the request of Texas Department of Public Safety officials.

At a Friday press conference in Washington, DC, Magnus said an internal investigation by the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility criticized the way four Border Patrol agents treated migrants, mostly Haitians, in particular the use of force by the agents to push them across the river. back to Mexico, when they were already in the United States.

Photos from September 19, 2021 appeared to show officers on horseback attempting to whip migrants and using the massive beasts to lead migrants back across the Rio Grande.

United States Border Patrol agents on horseback attempt to prevent Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuña Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas, September 19, 2021. ( Photo by PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images)
A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback attempts to prevent a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuña-Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas, September 19, 2021. (Photo by PAUL RATJE/ AFP via Getty Images)

But Magnus said the 500-page report found officers did not hit or whip the migrants, but rather badly twisted their split reins, which he said will not be standard equipment around large groups of people for future events.

Magnus would not detail specific disciplinary action taken against the officers, due to staff confidentiality rules, but said it could “range from reprimands to dismissal”. He said officers had been notified and had the right to appeal.

He also repeatedly stated that the Mounted Patrol Unit was inappropriately involved in the operation at the request of Texas DPS officials, and he stated that it was not authorized by the leadership of the CBP.

“The Mounted Patrol Unit conducted an operation at the request of the Texas DPS that was in direct conflict with Border Patrol operational objectives. Additionally, the Border Patrol supervisor who authorized participation in the operation did not get further instructions from his chain of command,” Magnus said.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent approaches migrants on horseback on September 17, 2021 in Del Rio, Texas. (File photo by Sandra Sanchez/Border Report)

His comments further point to tensions between the Biden administration and Texas officials, led by Governor Greg Abbott, who have increasingly taken border security into their own hands.

On Thursday, Abbott ordered DPS soldiers and Texas National Guard troops to apprehend and bring migrants back to the border and drop them off at ports of entry.

Those ports of entry are staffed by CBP officers, and it’s unclear whether federal officials will need to alter their operations to accommodate buses full of migrants dropped off at the base of international bridges or land ports.

The White House has condemned Abbott’s latest actions, part of his $4 billion Operation Lone Star border security initiative, which includes a state-built section of border wall in rural Starr County.

In a statement, the White House told KXAN that Operation Lone Star “put National Guardsmen and law enforcement in dangerous situations that created a logistical nightmare requiring federal rescue.”

On Friday, Magnus made it clear that the Biden administration believes immigration enforcement is the purview of federal law enforcement officials, like CBP and Border Patrol, not government agencies. State like Texas DPS. And he said that when states, like Texas, take on this role, they blur operations to reduce illegal immigration.

“We are ready to work with Texas to achieve these goals, but the challenge is that when a state, like Texas, takes unilateral action, it’s harder to do so,” Magnus said.

On September 17, 2021, U.S. Border Patrol mounted patrol units attempted to bring thousands of migrants back across the Rio Grande to Mexico from Del Rio, Texas. (File photo by Sandra Sanchez/Border Report)

Magnus said they were looking into whether to use the mounted patrol unit for crowd control in the future, and he promised mounted officers would be better trained for all future operations.

He also admitted the investigation had taken far too long – which he blamed on prosecutors who took five months to decide not to pursue criminal charges. And he admitted that not everyone will agree with the results.

“Not everyone will appreciate the findings, but the investigation was thorough and fair. The situation in Del Rio at the time of the incident was chaotic and unprecedented. agency and the lack of all proper policies and training all contributed to the incident, but there is no justification for the actions of some of our members which included unprofessional and deeply offensive conduct,” Magnus said.

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