Abbott Vows to Hire Border Patrol Agents Punished over ‘Whipping’ Incident

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Gov. Greg Abbott (R., Texas) speaks during a news conference in Del Rio, Texas, September 21, 2021. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday put his support behind Border Patrol agents who are under investigation by the Biden administration for swinging long reins while interacting with Haitian migrants, vowing to hire any who are at risk of being fired.

During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked the Republican governor to respond to images of officers on horseback in Del Rio, Texas swinging their reins while blocking Haitian migrants from entering the U.S.

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Abbott said the incident was the fault of the Biden administration as “they wouldn’t have been in that situation had the Biden administration enforced the immigration laws.”

President Biden has called the images of the interactions “horrible.”

“To see people like they did, with horses, running them over, people being strapped, it’s outrageous,” Biden said. “I promise you, those people will pay. There is an investigation underway right now and there will be consequences.”

Abbott said if Biden “takes any action against them whatsoever” he would offer the agents a job in Texas.

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“I have worked side by side with those Border Patrol agents — I want them to know something,” he said. “If they are risk of losing their job by a president who is abandoning his duty to secure the border, you have a job in the state of Texas. I will hire you to help Texas secure our border.”

The media initially falsely portrayed the images as showing agents hitting the migrants with whips. It was later revealed that the agents were in fact wielding the long reins that make it easier to maintain control of their horses, according to Border Control chief Raul Ortiz.

George Syer, a retired horse patrol coordinator in the Rio Grande Valley and Border Patrol supervisor, told National Review that the mounted agents were acting according to standard procedure and that the primary safety priority of riders is to prevent a collision between human and horse. 

Still, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would be investigating the incident and that the use of horses at the border would be temporarily paused.

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DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday that the agents shown in the images have been assigned to administrative duties and are not interacting with migrants while the investigation is under way. 

Yet senior administration officials reportedly told Fox News that the investigation is likely to yield little more than a suspension of a few days with pay for the agents and that it should be a “non-issue.”

Meanwhile, Abbott also defended himself against accusations that he is exceeding his authority in responding to the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Because the Biden administration is refusing to do its duty to enforce the laws of the United States, they have left Texas in no position other than for us to step up and do what we have to do,” Abbott said. “I’m going to step up and do whatever I have to do to make sure that I protect the people of Del Rio as well as all these other communities in the state of Texas that the Biden administration is ignoring.”

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