President Joe Biden signaled on Tuesday that his administration would deal with the situation at the southern border, where an estimated 15,000 Haitian migrants fleeing the disaster have traveled to seek asylum.
“We’re going to bring it under control,” Biden told reporters during his visit to the United Nations when asked about the border footage that has sparked outrage in recent days.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday that Biden had been briefed on the emergency on the Del Rio, Texas bridge where migrants have set up camps. She said Biden was also briefed on what she called “horrific” video and photos of the treatment of Haitian migrants by border patrol agents, which sparked an internal Department of Homeland Security investigation.
Biden “finds the pictures, the pictures and the photos to be horrible,” she said. “They do not represent who we are as a country, and he was delighted to see the announcement of the investigation. He certainly supports that. And obviously a decision will be made on next steps once this is completed. “
Photos and videos emerged this week of reporters and others documenting events at the Del Rio Bridge of border patrol officers on horseback chasing Haitian migrants, including one holding what appeared to be a whip.
Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he was “horrified to see the footage”.
“We do not tolerate any mistreatment or abuse of a migrant, period,” he said.
Mayorkas suggested on Monday that the agent was holding a long reins, not a whip. Reuters reported that some witnesses described officers as holding lariats.
DHS also released a statement last week detailing its strategy to deal with the border upheaval, including placing 400 additional officers and agents in the Del Rio area, moving migrants from the region to other processing locations and working with countries in the region to accept migrants.
NBC News reported last week that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was planning to increase deportation flights to Haiti. ICE plans to carry out eight deportation flights to Haiti and will then increase the number to 10 per week.