Will Del Rio Border Patrol Officers Get Whipsawed for Doing Their Job?
Controversy surrounding the fabled Border Patrol “whipping” at Del Rio, Texas, continues to swirl eight months after an exhaustive government investigation concluded that no agents struck any migrants.
Despite the findings, the Department of Homeland Security has not closed the Sept. 19, 2021 case. Now it appears the administration may be shifting responsibility for any disciplinary decisions to individuals who have no Border Patrol or law-enforcement experience – a move that three congressional committee chairmen called “unprecedented.”
In a March 24 letter to Troy Miller, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; James Comer, R-Ky.; and Mark Green, R-Tenn., recounted:
“Nearly 30,000 illegal aliens, mostly from Haiti, crossed into the United States in Del Rio during September 2021. At one point, nearly 15,000 of those aliens camped under the Del Rio International Bridge, completely overwhelming the Border Patrol and local resources … creating a massive humanitarian crisis for the community, putting both the aliens and Border Patrol agents at risk of harm.
“At the peak of the crisis on Sept. 19, three members of the Border Patrol’s Del Rio Horse Patrol Unit were patrolling the southwest border while illegal aliens were crossing the Rio Grande River into the United States. An out-of-context video of the agents’ actions later surfaced, suggesting that the agents were abusing their authority.”
As media reports whipped up a sensational storyline that mounted agents had lashed migrants with horse reins, a false narrative took hold and was instantly politicized. Inaccurate and inflammatory remarks by President Joe Biden and others in his administration immediately followed in a rush to judgment.
Ultimately, CBP investigators confirmed that while several Border Patrol agents used force or the threat of force to attempt to drive migrants back across the Rio Grande, “there is no evidence that any migrants were forced to return to Mexico or denied entry to the United States.” (Italics added.)
In short: There was no whipping.
The issue now is whether any officers should be disciplined. According to CBP investigators, one agent “acted in an unprofessional manner by yelling comments related to a migrant’s national origin and sex.”
Amid questions as to who will make disciplinary decisions, the three House chairmen see administrative mischief ahead. Their letter to Miller fires a warning shot.
“We understand that rather than have a Border Patrol supervisor, sector chief, or even the Chief of Border Patrol decide on what disciplinary action, if any, is appropriate, CBP may instead select a senior executive with no Border Patrol or law enforcement experience. We are concerned that if CBP pursues this course, it will result in an uninformed and potentially unfair disciplinary decision … [to] protect their politically accountable superiors – the president, the vice president and the secretary of Homeland Security – for their inaccurate and defamatory statements.”
Miller has yet to respond. Stay tuned.