Border Patrol Agents Did Not Whip Del Rio Migrants, Report Finds


A group of horse-mounted Border Patrol agents responding to a surge of Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas, last year behaved inappropriately but did not strike any of the migrants with their reins, according to Customs and Border Protection, which released a final report Friday over the September confrontation that prompted national outrage.

Key Facts

The 511-page report found “no evidence” any of the migrants were denied entry to the U.S. during the encounter with agents on September 19.

Widely circulated images last year appeared to show agents charging their horses and swinging their reins at Haitian migrants, which many criticized as a form of brutality akin to slavery—President Joe Biden claimed after the incident that agents “strapped” migrants and demanded disciplinary actions.

CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said Friday that four agents have been referred to a discipline review board over their actions on September 19, but he did not say what potential penalties they may face.

The investigation determined at least one agent yelled “denigrating comments” at a migrant entering the U.S., while another unsafely maneuvered his horse near a child and several more attempted to force migrants into the Rio Grande River.

CBP noted the situation was “chaotic” and went “well beyond” the usual scope of Border Patrol agents’ work.

Confusion was rampant among the Border Patrol, with a lack of clear command that at one point led to agents adhering to a request from the Texas Department of Public Safety that “directly conflicted” with Border Patrol objectives, according to the report.

Crucial Quote

“The report showed there were failures to make good decisions at multiple levels of the organization,” Magnus said.

Big Number

More than 30,000. That’s how many migrants flooded into the U.S. during a brief period in mid-September, according to CBP.

Key Background

Many of the migrants lived in deplorable conditions in a makeshift camp underneath a Del Rio bridge as U.S. authorities struggled to deal with the influx of people, largely Haitian asylum seekers who had traveled from South America. Biden faced intense criticism from both the political right and left during the surge, with Republicans like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott blasting his administration for not taking a tougher approach to discourage migration and progressives demanding more be done to take care of the migrants. The U.S. responded by ramping up deportations, leading to the camp being cleared out in a matter of days. Daniel Foote, who was U.S. special envoy to Haiti, resigned over the decision to deport the migrants, which he called “inhumane.”

Further Reading

In Photos: Haitian Migrant Camp Cleared, But White House Still Dealing With Furor Caused By Shocking Images Of Border Chaos (Forbes)

U.S. Special Envoy To Haiti Resigns Over ‘Inhumane’ Treatment Of Haitian Migrants (Forbes)

‘Our Borders Are Not Open’: U.S. Ramping Up Deportations To End Haitian Migrant Crisis (Forbes)