Mayorkas stated that he was horrified by the images spread on social media. These images have drawn outrage from members, including Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker. Mounted agents sometimes use horses to force migrants to move or block them, making them appear to be herding them and taunting them at least once.
Mayorkas stated that any mistreatment or abuse of migrants is unacceptable. "The images that I have seen troubled me deeply."
DHS released a statement late Monday stating that Customs and Border Protection's Office of Professional Responsibility was investigating the incident. This announcement was made hours after Raul Ortiz, Chief of Border Patrol, appeared with the secretary to discuss U.S. efforts in clearing a tens of thousands of Haitian migrants from the area of Del Rio. The incident occurred suddenly in recent days.
On Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris said to reporters that she would discuss the situation with DHS secretary. She said that she saw images of horseback riders treating human beings in a horrible way. "I fully support what's happening now, which is an in-depth investigation into what is actually going on there. Human beings shouldn't be treated this way. It's a deeply troubling thought.
This controversy has added to the already difficult situation for Biden's administration. It is being criticized by many allies for sending Haitians home under a public order of public health without giving them the opportunity to seek asylum in America.
These disturbing photos and videos were captured in Del Rio in the recent days. They show Border Patrol agents confronting Haitians on the Rio Grande, near the border bridge where thousands have gathered to try and enter the country. The Associated Press and another news organization have videos that show an agent twirling his reins in a frightening manner, but not striking anyone.
When Ortiz was asked about the use of whips against Haitians, he said that agents were trying to control their horses in a chaotic and difficult environment. He said that he did not know the identities of the smugglers and migrants, but that the agency was investigating the matter.
Mayorkas intervened to clarify that agents were not using whips. "To control the horse, we use long reins. However, we are going to examine the facts and determine if there are any differences. If it is, we will respond accordingly."
The Associated Press has seen video and photos that confirm that agents did not use whips to confront migrants on the banks of Rio Grande.
The outrage quickly grew, even at the White House where Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said that the images were "horrific" but she admitted not having all of the information.
"I have seen some footage. I don't know the context. Psaki said that he couldn't think of the context that would make it appropriate.
Members of Congress were sceptical, with the exception of Rep. Bennie Thompson (a Mississippi Democrat) who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. Mayorkas was urged to take immediate action to hold those responsible responsible.
Pelosi called the allegations of abuse and "use of what appears to be whips” to be "deeply troubling" as well as calling for an investigation.
The speaker stated that all migrants seeking asylum should be treated with respect and basic decency.
Unidentified White House official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal operations. He said that DHS had reported that the secretary hadn’t seen the footage before Monday’s news conference.
Mayorkas answered questions at Tuesday's Senate hearing about the video and photos. He said that the issue was "uppermost" in his mind since he first saw them. However, it wasn’t clear which one he had seen.
He said, "I was horrified to view the images, but we look forward to learning all the facts that were adduced during the investigation and will take the actions that those facts require." "We will not tolerate any abuse or mistreatment of migrant. "Permanent."
Mayorkas stated that he would not explicitly state whether the incidents were mistreatment or abuse and instead referred to the investigation.
According to the agency, the Office of Professional Responsibility will be leading the investigation and will have personnel present on the ground 24/7 monitoring the situation in Del Rio.
More Than 6,000 Haitians have been expelled from Del Rio's encampment. Mayorkas foresees a dramatic increase in migrants in the area within the next two-to four days.
Republicans are launching new attacks on Democrats over the latest surge in border migration. Mayorkas claims DHS is confronting a "heartbreaking" situation at the border where encounters dropped last month for only the second time since President Joe Biden's election.
He said, "I do not diminish the, the humane problem that it presents, but i want to make it clear that we have a plan to address that."
Mayorkas stated that 600 Homeland Security personnel, including Coast Guard employees, were brought to Del Rio. Mayorkas stated that he had asked the Defense Department to assist in one of the largest, most rapid expulsions of refugees and migrants from the United States in decades.
Mayorkas, speaking from Del Rio Monday, warned Haitians against coming to the U.S. He noted that while protections from deportation were temporarily extended for Haitians through July 29, these protections no longer apply for new migrants.
"If you illegally enter the United States, you will be returned." He said that your journey would not be successful and could endanger your family's lives.