The mounted U.S. Border Patrol agents whom false reports accused of using whips to drive Haitian migrants away from the border in Del Rio, Texas, have reportedly been cleared of wrongdoing.
According to Fox News and the New York Post, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office handling the investigation into the agents' actions has cleared them of criminal wrongdoing after they were placed on probation.
National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd told the New York Post that Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Personal Responsibility has completed a 500-page report on the investigation, which is expected to be released soon. Judd said that while the agents were not found to have committed any crimes, they could still lose their jobs if investigators determined they violated agency policy.
Judd admitted he has not seen the report and does not know what conclusions the agency reached, but he also expressed concerns about its length.
“No one knows what’s in the report,” he told the Post. “I don’t know what’s in it. As of yesterday afternoon, the chief of the Border Patrol didn’t know what’s in it.”
“I’ve never seen a 500-page report where no one did anything wrong,” he added.
The Department of Homeland Security did not respond when asked to confirm if the agents had been cleared or when the report would be released.
Viral images that appeared to show Border Patrol agents on horseback "rounding up Haitian refugees with whips" led to widespread outrage last September, with Democrats and immigration activists accusing CBP of treating migrants inhumanely and potentially criminally.
News reports said that a mounted U.S. Border Patrol agent swung a "whip" at Haitian migrants who were attempting to cross the Rio Grande river and illegally enter the United States near Del Rio, Texas, where thousands more migrants were encamped under a bridge.
Those reports turned out to be false. Border Patrol agents do not carry whips, and it became apparent that the viral photos were showing the horses' reins, which were not being whipped at migrants, as many wrongly claimed.
“I didn’t ever see them whip anybody, with the thing,” photographer Paul Ratije told local news station KTSM. “He was swinging it. But I didn’t see him actually take — whip someone with it. That’s something that can be misconstrued when you’re looking at the picture.”
Townhall writer Julio Rosas reported at the time that Border Patrol agents on horseback will sometimes spin their reins to deter people from getting to close to the horse, which is dangerous and could lead to severe injury.
Regardless of the facts, the Biden administration responded to the controversy by prohibiting CBP agents from riding on horseback in Del Rio and placing the agents at the center of the incident on probation, pending an investigation. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told news outlets he was "troubled" by the accusations and "horrified" by the images, without giving his agents the benefit of the doubt.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris each said there would need to be "consequences" for the accused agents, before any wrongdoing was confirmed.
Judd told the New York Post those agents remain on desk duty as they await the investigation's conclusions.