The email in question from a “top public affairs official” referenced an article published by KTSM, an NBC News affiliate in El Paso, in which the photographer responsible for the pictures, Paul Ratje, explained that the images could be misinterpreted.
“I’ve never seen them whip anyone,” Ratje told KTSM. “He was swinging it, but it can be misconstrued when you’re looking at the picture.”
In September 2021, about 30,000 foreign nationals from Haiti and elsewhere illegally crossed the southern border based in part on misinformation about U.S. policies concerning temporary protected status for Haitians.
Responding to the images and video that seemed to depict “whipping,” the White House prohibited horseback patrols for the Del Rio border agents.
“In the midst of meeting these challenges, we — our entire nation — saw horrifying images that do not reflect who we are, who we aspire to be, or the integrity and values of our truly heroic personnel in the Department of Homeland Security,” Mayorkas said at a White House news conference.
“The investigation into what occurred has not yet concluded. We know that those images painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation’s ongoing battle against systemic racism.”
An investigation by U.S. Customs and Border Protection criticized some of the officers for “unprofessional” actions but otherwise exonerated them from the charge that they had “whipped” people.
The report that Mayorkas had seen the photographer’s side of the story before condemning the images drew the ire of Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
“Disgraceful. Mayorkas knowingly sold out the honorable men a women [sic] of Border Patrol… all to curry favor with the Biden White House,” Cruz tweeted. “I’m [sic] just a few months, Mayorkas will — rightly — be impeached.”
In an interview with The Texan last week, Congressman Michael Cloud (R-TX-27) expressed similar thoughts, commenting that it ought to be a priority for Congress if the GOP takes charge in January.
“First of all, we’ve got to impeach Mayorkas. I mean, this guy is not acting in good faith,” Cloud said. “He lies to the American people, he lies about what’s going on on the border. I visited the facilities, and they’ll literally lie about what’s happening in front of our eyes.”
Cloud repeated his call for Mayorkas to be impeached after Fox published the email.
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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."