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Border patrol agents clashing with Haitian refugees in viral footage horrifies Biden administration

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Videos taken by Al Jazeera and Reuters appear to show law enforcement officers on horseback using aggressive tactics in the face of migrants, who are largely Haitian, to prevent them from crossing into the United States.

A law enforcement officer on horseback is seen in the video of Al Jazeera twirling long reins near a group of migrants. Shortly before, another individual on horseback is heard yelling at the migrants, saying: “Are you using your wives? That’s why your country is shit, because you use your women for it. English Al Jazeera journalist John Holman published the full quote – he attributed it to an anonymous border patrol agent – on his Twitter.

At one point in the Reuters video, an officer’s horse nearly ran into one of the migrants, who fell back into the water. This video shows officers at the water’s edge, spinning the long reins as migrants cross the border on the US coastline of the Rio Grande. Then, as law enforcement officers try to lock up the migrants, one of the officers appears to be spinning the reins of the horse near one of the migrants.

Vice President Kamala Harris called the footage “horrific” and said she supported an investigation into the matter.

“What I saw of these people on horseback, treating human beings as they were, is horrific. And I fully support what’s going on right now, which is a thorough investigation of what exactly is going on there. “Harris said Tuesday. .

“But human beings should never be treated in this way and I am deeply disturbed about it and will also speak about it with the secretary (of the Ministry of Homeland Security) (Alejandro) Mayorkas later today,” added Harris.

Harris did not say whether she would expand her role as the head of diplomatic efforts to slow migration to Central America to include Haiti’s migration issues, but said more needs to be done to meet the basic needs of the Haitian people. .

The migrants are located at a temporary site under the Del Rio International Bridge in Texas while waiting to be processed by US immigration authorities. They sleep in the dirt, surrounded by growing garbage piles, exposed to the elements and without much food and water, in hopes of being dealt with by the overwhelmed US Border Patrol.

Earlier Tuesday, Mayorkas said he was “horrified” by the situation.

“I was horrified by what I saw,” Mayorkas told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on “New Day.” “I will let the investigation take its course. But the images I observed have deeply disturbed me. It defies any values ​​that we seek to instill in our people.”

Mayorkas said on Monday that the department would investigate the situation. When Keilar asked him if it was a “crisis”, he called it a “heartbreaking situation” and a “huge challenge”.

“I am in no way diminishing the humanitarian problem he presents, but I want to be clear that we have a plan to address it, respecting the needs of individuals and that we are executing this plan,” he said. he declares.

Mayorkas said US authorities had already “moved around 4,000, possibly more than 4,000 migrants, from under this bridge,” adding that they are moving more migrants “very quickly to other processing centers so that we can ensure their safety and security and the safety and security of the community. ”

He added: “We expect to see dramatic changes in the next 48 to 96 hours.”

Asked about President Joe Biden’s reaction to the video, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that he “also felt they were horrible and horrible.”

“I think it’s important for people to know that it’s not who we are, it’s not who the Biden-Harris administration is, and we’re absolutely going to continue this investigation and get to the bottom of what happened here, “she said on” CBS Matins. ”

Mayorkas, who on Tuesday defended the use of horse-drawn patrols, said the images defied “all the values ​​we seek to instill in our people” and said the US government and humanitarian organizations were working to remedy the situation. the situation.

“I saw the values ​​we instill in our people at an exhibit during my visit under the bridge and saw them working with the American Red Cross, Department of Health and Human Services, World Central Kitchen, to meet the needs of a vulnerable population. of migrants under the Del Rio Bridge, “he told Keilar.” It reflects who we are, and any mistreatment or abuse of an individual challenges… our values ​​and who we are and what we stand for. “

This story has been updated with additional feedback and background information.

CNN’s Jasmine Wright, Jason Hoffman, Priscilla Alvarez, Geneva Sands, Betsy Klein, Paul LeBlanc and Paul P. Murphy contributed to this report.

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