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Biden vows border agents 'will pay' for treatment of Haitian migrants, repeats false claims about agents

Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Friday vowed to take retaliatory action against the mounted Border Patrol agents who have been falsely accused of using "whips" against Haitian migrants to prevent them from illegally entering the country.

The agents — who were photographed over the weekend securing the border while on horseback Del Rio, Texas — have been accused by several media sources of inappropriately charging and chasing the migrants while using whips or lassos.

It has since been clarified that they were actually using split reins to control their horses. But Biden seemed content to keep peddling the false narrative.

"It was horrible [what] you saw. To see people treated like they did [sic]. Horses nearly running people over and people being strapped," the president said while speaking to reporters at the White House.

"It's outrageous. I promise you those people will pay. They will be investigated. There will be consequences," he declared.

Biden's comments come after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki similarly called footage of the border patrol agents confronting illegal immigrants attempting to cross the Rio Grande "horrible to watch."

"I don't think anyone seeing that footage would think it's acceptable or appropriate," she added. "I can't imagine what the scenario is where that would be appropriate."

Others certainly could, however. Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas), who represents a district along the U.S.-Mexico border, clarified recently that border agents have been operating with horse brigades for a long time — something now banned by the Biden administration. He also assured that agents "don't carry whips and they do not carry lassos."

Sure enough, Paul Ratje, the freelance photographer who captured the controversial images, debunked the false claims to a local news source on Thursday, noting that neither he nor his team ever saw agents whipping someone.

"Some of the Haitian men started running, trying to go around the horses," he recounted. "That's kind of when the whole thing happened. I didn't ever see them whip anybody. ... He was swinging it, but I didn't see them actually whip someone with it.

"That's something that can be easily misconstrued when you're looking at the picture," he added.

But probing the situation for accuracy has not been the Biden administration's goal. The president and his team likely view the controversy as a welcome distraction to the ongoing fiasco at the border, where hundreds of thousands of migrants a month continue to illegally pour into the country.

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