Is this normal behavior for Border Patrol agents? Are agents issued whips to use on migrants? Did CBP really not know about the Haitian refugee group? What can be done?These are the questions flooding my email, social media and voicemail from followers and media in response to the video and photos of Border Patrol agents on horses attacking Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas. This post is a simple guide to answer some of those questions.
Border Patrol is a law enforcement agency that has deep roots in white supremacy. The guy that Border Patrol brags about as being the "first agent" was named Jeff Milton. He is still celebrated on CBP's website. Only they don't tell you he was the son of a Confederate officer and Florida governor who was so distraught over having to free his fifty plus slaves that he committed suicide. Jeff went to Texas when he was only 15 years old with many other former slave owners in the hopes of continuing that legacy and wound up joining the Patrol when it was created in 1924 to round up Chinese immigrants who helped build the railroad system. Politicians no longer had a use for them and blamed them for a recession. By the way, CBP omits that his name was actually Jefferson Davis Milton in honor of the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. They also fail to mention that many of the first agents were members of the KKK.
Let's fast forward to today where many agents are members of anti-immigrant groups like the ones that taught Stephen Miller where to get his racist and brutal policies from.
Yes, the manner in which those horse patrol agents were patrolling is normal behavior. Yes agents are trained this way. There is no real reason to have a horse patrol anymore, except that the Border Patrol loves the look of it and agents like to ride horses. No Border Patrol agents are issued whips. That being said, horse patrol agents are issued split reins and some carry riding crops. Split reins are just what the phrase implies, and they are made of leather. Essentially, they can and are often used by agents like a whip to "herd" migrants into a specific area. A riding crop is simply a firm whip.
I used the term "herd" because that is what agents are doing in those pictures; they are herding human beings in the same manner that ranchers herd cattle. Border Patrol often use terms usually designated for animals for migrants because they do not see migrants as humans. Agents are trained in the academy and in the field that most asylum seekers and refugees are liars, criminals and are trying to invade our country. They believe that most are "subhuman" and make statements like you heard the horse patrol agent make in the video that they are coming from "shit countries."
The Border Patrol will tell you that they do not issue whips, and that agents were nearly trying to keep the refugees from entering the country illegally. Whether agents made contact with the refugees or not, whether they used a whip, a riding crop or split reins, the action of swinging those things at refugees was what we would commonly call whipping. The visual of mounted law enforcement whipping migrants, especially Black refugees, brings painful memories and trauma to Black, Brown and Indigenous people's minds. The Patrol will not be shamed by this, because they want this visual. They want this fight.
Border Patrol has sided with the former president and Governor Abbott of Texas in this battle. They believe they are entitled to do anything to try and prevent asylum seekers and refugees from entering the country. President Biden is mistakenly helping to make their argument by continuing to use Title 42 to keep the asylum system closed. With no avenue to legally clam asylum, desperate families are being forced to cross between the ports of entry to save their own lives. If you don't want people fleeing violence and certain death to cross in between the ports, then you have to have a functioning asylum system.
It's not rocket science.
Not having a robust and humane asylum system is also a national security threat. As can clearly be seen, the Border Patrol cannot process this many migrants. The act of closing the system prevents CBP from vetting migrants and finding those who should not be allowed to enter while punishing everyone else who has legitimate claims. If Biden wants to have national security, a decent asylum system is an essential part of that.
Asylum is a legal right. Haitians in particular have access to Temporary Protective Status and can also be allowed in to the country by a humanitarian parole if Biden wanted to. This is what he should do. Just recently, Biden demonstrated how refugees and asylum seekers should be welcomed and treated when he allowed thousands of Afghan refugees to come to the U.S.
For those like Secretary Mayorkas who claims this is not who we are, who the Border Patrol is: this is exactly who we are and it is exactly who the Border Patrol is. These are the same agents who ripped babies from mothers' arms, who allowed children to die in their custody because they could not be bothered to attend to them, who currently have three senior agents on trial in Tucson Sector alone for rape, who held migrants in cramped conditions for weeks without medical assistance and threw moldy food at them. Just look at this Facebook post by Border Patrol Union representative Hector Garza:
One other thing, the investigation called for by Secretary Mayorkas will be a sham like all the other investigations. Investigators in the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility are often ex-agents who make sure these cases go nowhere. Check out this piece about McAllen, TX DHS-OIG corruption. This is why over 130 people have died at the hands of agents since 2010 and not one agent has been held accountable. This about Anastacio Hernandez-Rojas and Claudia Patricia Gomez-Gonzalez. Better yet, think about the recent "I'm 10-15" private Facebook group where agents laughed and joked about dead migrants and put up photos showing female congressional members being sexually assaulted. The investigators did nothing!
No one should be surprised. Wake the fuck up! This is who we are.