DHS Inspector General declines to investigate Border Patrol agents for allegedly ‘whipping’ migrants – but it’s not over yet


WASHINGTON, DC – The Department of Homeland Security has announced that the DHS Inspector General has declined to investigate the September allegations of Border Patrol agents whipping immigrants at the southern border.

Photographs surfaced on social media in September showing multiple Border Patrol agents on horseback using their horses to keep several illegal immigrants from entering the US after crossing the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas.

Photos circulated widely showing mounted Border Patrol agents trying to control migrants on September 19, 2021.

Mainstream media claimed the long reins being used to control the horses were actually being used by the agents to whip the migrants, something that has since been debunked, even by the photographer who took the photos.

Regardless, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continued to investigate the claims but ran into internal resistance. The DHS Office of the Inspector General has refused to investigate the incident and referred the case back to Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

In an update issued November 16, DHS stated:

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) initially referred the investigation to DHS’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). The OIG declined to investigate and referred the matter back to CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

“OPR then immediately commenced investigative work, including its review of videos and photographs and the interview of witnesses, employees, and CBP leadership. OPR has followed customary process in its investigation of this matter.”

DHS stated that following their investigation into the alleged incidents of whipping, decisions about any discipline will follow:

“Once completed, the results of the investigation will be provided to CBP management to determine whether disciplinary action is appropriate and, if so, the specific discipline to be imposed. At that time, the employees will be afforded due process, including an opportunity to respond, and any corrective actions will comport with applicable laws and regulations.

“The disciplinary process, which is separate from the fact-finding investigation, is subject to certain timelines established in CBP’s labor-management agreement with the employees’ union of the United States Border Patrol.”

The incident remains unresolved and under investigation by the administration two months after the photographs were released. President Biden had said that the investigation would only take “two days” and vowed, without evidence, that the agents involved would “pay” for their actions:

“I take responsibility. It was horrible to see, to see people treated like they did, with horses nearly running them over. People being strapped. It’s outrageous.

“I promise you those people will pay. They will be investigated. There will be consequences.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) brought up the investigation during questioning of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at a committee hearing:

“What about the issue with your Border Patrol agents being accused by some folks in the media of ‘whipping’ illegal immigrants, when in fact they were not? Why on Earth did you not defend them?

“Has no one in your entire department ever become aware of how one uses split reins when riding a horse?”

Mayorkas responded that he always stands with the man and woman of the department, but Sen. Lee interrupted him by asking:

“Did you defend them when they were being attacked for whipping people? Which they were not.”

Mayorkas said he would await the results of the on-going investigation:

“Senator, what I said quite clearly is that the independent investigation will determine the facts and those facts will drive the outcome. Nothing less and nothing more.”

Despite the primary watchdog group for the DHS declining to investigate the incident, OPR will continue its investigation. According to DHS, the CBP office has been reviewing videos and photos as well as interviewing witnesses, employees, and agency leadership:

“OPR has followed customary process in its investigation of this matter. Once complete, the results of the investigation will be provided to CBP management to determine whether disciplinary action is appropriate and, if so, the specific discipline to be imposed.”

Paul Ratije, the photographer who took the photos being investigated, said he never saw any Border Patrol agents whipping migrants:

“Some of the Haitian men started running, trying to go around the horses, and that’s kind of when the whole thing happened.

“I didn’t ever see them whip anybody, with the (reins). 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.”

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Fact Check: Dems and White House express outrage over Border Patrol ‘whipping’ migrants, but it’s not true

September 22, 2021


 DEL RIO, TX – Democrats once again jumped at the opportunity to attack law enforcement after Border Patrol agents were reportedly filmed using whips on Haitian migrants at the southern border. However, those accusations were later proven false.

Video released by Al Jazeera and Reuters allegedly depicted mounted Border Patrol agents trying to block Haitian migrants trying to return to a makeshift camp at the Del Rio International Bridge after returning to Mexico briefly.  It was later learned the “whips” were reins used to steer the horses.

Over 10,000 Haitian migrants are waiting for the chance to open an asylum claim in the United States within this makeshift camp, and their presence is becoming a humanitarian crisis as the Biden administration struggles to control the surge.

Democrats expressed outrage over the images, claiming the long reins were actually whips being used on the migrants. Despite explanations from the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Chief of the Border Patrol, Democrats attacked the White House.

The claims of whipping prompted a defensive response from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday:

“I’ve seen some of the footage. I don’t have the full context. I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate, but I don’t have additional details, and certainly I don’t have additional context.

Not waiting for facts, Psaki added:

“I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it’s acceptable or appropriate.”

Vice President Kamala Harris joined the chorus of Democrats jumping on the “facts be damned” bandwagon. Harris told reporters on Tuesday:

“What I saw depicted about those individuals on horseback treating human beings the way they were, was horrible. And I fully support what is happening right now, which is a thorough investigation into exactly what is going on there.

“But human beings should never be treated that way. And I’m deeply troubled about it. And I’ll also be talking to Secretary (Alejandro) Mayorkas about it today.”


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the treatment of Haitian nationals by U.S. law enforcement “deeply troubling” and “heartbreaking”:

“Reports of the mistreatment of Haitian migrants fleeing violence and devastation from natural disasters are deeply troubling, including the inappropriate use of what appear to be whips by Border Patrol officers on horseback to intimidate migrants.”

The problem with all the Democrats’ outrage and the White House’s defensive reaction is that the claims of whipping were completely false.

The National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) tweeted a strong defense of the Border Patrol agents with a hint of sarcasm to chastise the Democrats for making the false claims without gathering the facts.

On their Facebook page, the FOP wrote:

“For all you Social Media Warriors out there: these are NOT whips. And no, Border Patrol agents are NOT ‘whipping’ people.

“They are REINS… Stay with us here, like a steering wheel is used to drive a car, the reins are used to ‘drive’ the horse.

“Thanks for coming to our TED talk.”

The FOP also posted photographs of the long reins hanging from the horses as the Border Patrol struggled to control Haitians trying to re-enter the country illegally.

Secretary Mayorkas held a news conference near the Del Rio International Bridge on Monday defending the use of mounted Border Patrol agents, but said an investigation would be launched anyway:

“The footage is extremely troubling, and the facts learned from the full investigation, which will be conducted swiftly, will define the appropriate disciplinary actions to be taken…

“But we are going to investigate the facts to ensure that the situation is as we understand it to be, and if it’s anything different we will respond accordingly.”

Ortiz said that mounted Border Patrol agents played an important role in the security response to the crisis at the Del Rio International Bridge. He also explained that the mounted agents were working to secure the bridge to prevent the passage of illegal aliens to and from the United States without proper checks:

“As was witnessed in the video and some of the pictures, the migrants were going back-and-forth. We do not know who are the smugglers or who are the migrants, so it’s important that those Border Patrol agents maintain a level of security for both themselves and for the migrant population.”

Ortiz, an experienced horse rider himself, explained that the long reins help Border Patrol agents control horses and protect migrants:

“(Controlling horses is important ) so we do not get in a position where we injure a migrant as they’re trying to make that treacherous trek across that river is probably more important than anything.

“And I’m pretty sure and confident that that’s exactly what was happening, but we will certainly look into the matter, to make sure that we do not have any activity that could be construed as a response to a law enforcement effort that is unacceptable.”

Answering criticism that Border Patrol agents were swinging the long reins near migrants, Ortiz said:

“You’re assuming facts that have not yet been determined.”

Border Patrol agents reacted with anger and disbelief at the accusations of whipping. One agent told Fox News:

“This whole situation is blowing up and even liberals are turning on this administration. (Harris) is placing blame on agents to deflect because she and Biden are not going to change how they are handling this.”

Another Border patrol agent had more to say about the Democratic claims:

“Just proves what absolute idiots they are. With basic knowledge and two brain cells, anyone knows those agents use split reins. They do use them as a whip, on their horses.

“This helps get a quicker response from the horse to move out when needed, especially when the horse may be hesitant with groups of people or other animals.”

“Again, it is clear that those ‘in charge,’ a term that is disgusting to use, have no clue about our operations and frankly operate by ignorance and unhinged emotions.”



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