A report authored last month by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stated that border agents working in the Del Rio area during the surge did not strike illegal immigrants as they had been accused, though the document condemned “unprofessional” conduct on the part of several officers.
In September 2021, an estimated 30,000 people crossed the Rio Grande illegally into the Del Rio area. The surge was partially ascribed to confusion about the U.S. government’s temporary protected status policy, which had only been extended on a limited basis to some Haitian illegal aliens.
A deportation pause may have also fed the belief that the individuals would be permitted to stay.
In a news release published July 8, CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility detailed the results of its investigation, which revealed “no evidence that agents struck any person with horse reins.”
However, it did identify problems with how border agents responded to the “unprecedented situation.”
“Several Agents were found to have behaved in a manner not in keeping with the professional standards of conduct expected of federal law enforcement personnel,” the news release concluded. “In those cases, disciplinary review processes are underway. CBP commits to sharing the results when appropriate, Agents’ privacy and due process rights.”
CBP stated that the agency interviewed 30 eyewitnesses in addition to reviewing photographs and video of agents trying to control the crowd.
One agent used “denigrating and inappropriate language” and “maneuvered his horse unsafely near a child.” Specifically, the agent in question said, “Hey! You use your women? This is why your country’s s—, you use your women for this.” The comment was captured in a video produced by Al Jazeera.
The report assigned partial blame to CBP itself for failing to adequately plan and organize for the rush on the border. The agency stated four agents are under discipline for their actions during the illegal immigration surge.
On March 11, 2022, federal prosecutors declined to file charges against anyone involved. The agency’s inspector general also declined to pursue an investigation, per CBP.
Prior to the inquiry, the pictures and video drew strong condemnation from the White House and other politicians.
“It’s horrible what you saw. To see people like they did, with horses, running them over, people being strapped, it’s outrageous,” President Biden stated at the time. “I promise you, those people will pay. There is an investigation underway right now and there will be consequences.”
Vice President Kamala Harris also likened the video and images to slavery in the 19th century.
“The report showed there were failures to make good decisions at multiple levels of the organization,” Commissioner Chris Magnus said. “Failures to maintain command and control over Horse Patrol Units, lack of appropriate policies and training, and the overall chaotic nature of the situation at Del Rio at the time contributed to the incident.”
However, Magnus added that “the vast majority of Border Patrol Agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel acted with honor and integrity.”
CBP said it is implementing reforms such as modifying training for agents on horseback and limiting the use of crowd control tactics.
Abbott commented in his radio appearance that Texas would hire federal employees who are frustrated with the Biden administration.
“If you’re an FBI officer looking for a different opportunity in law enforcement, Texas needs a lot of it. And we got a lot of investigations,” Abbott said.
“If there’s anybody in the FBI who is dissatisfied with their working condition with their leadership, which, by the way, is not just Border Patrol and may not just be FBI, there are so many people working under the Biden administration that see how this administration is completely going off the rails.”
Registered voters in Texas overwhelmingly prefer Abbott over Democratic gubernatorial nominee Beto O’Rourke on border security issues, according to a Dallas Morning News/University of Texas at Tyler poll conducted earlier this month.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."