Leer en Español
Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was notified by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) public affairs office about statements made by the photographer who captured a confrontation between illegal immigrants of Haitian origin and the Border Patrol in which he clarified that the agents did not have whips and that the incident was being misinterpreted by the media.
Hours after being notified of this, Mayorkas attended a White House press conference and, although the Democratic leadership criticized that the migrants had been “whipped,” the secretary did not deny the facts and favored the false narrative, and even ordered an investigation against the Border Patrol for alleged violence against the Haitians.
In September 2021, a photograph documenting a Border Patrol operation attempting to control a wave of Haitian migrants went viral. Based on an interpretation of the image, Democrats and the White House condemned the agents for allegedly lashing migrants with whips.
Amid the media hysteria, President Biden told reporters that border agents would “pay” for the events.
“To see people treated like they did, horses barely running over, people being strapped — it’s outrageous. I promise you; those people will pay. There will be an investigation underway now, and there will be consequences,” Biden said.
The Heritage Foundation, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, obtained an email dated September 24, 2021, in which DHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Marsha Espinosa alerted Mayorkas and other members of the department about the photographer’s statements.
According to a Fox News report, Espinosa emphasized in the email that the photographer had not seen whips or witnessed whippings against the migrants.
Hours later, Mayorkas joined Biden’s then Press Secretary Jen Psaki at a conference to condemn the alleged Border Patrol move, without mentioning the specifics of Espinosa’s email.
“Our nation saw horrifying images that do not reflect who we are. We know that those images painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation’s ongoing battle against systemic racism”; Mayorkas said at the conference. “The images horrified us in terms of what they suggest and what they conjure up.”
Days earlier, Mayorkas had defended the Border Patrol and pointed out that the agents used long reins to control their horses, suggesting that what was seen in the images were not whips.
When asked by a reporter about his comments in defense of the agents, the official said he had not seen the photographs at the time.
Another reporter brought up the photographer’s comments and asked Mayorkas about the discrepancy between his claims and those of Biden’s presidency, but the secretary attempted to whitewash the official narrative by questioning how the agents “used the horses” while interacting with the migrants and that he would let the investigation run its course.
However, he again contributed the false narrative. Another reporter asked him about the “whippings” and the secretary responded that the events had “horrified” the country.
In July 2022, nearly ten months after the incident, the Office of Professional Responsibility determined that the agents did not have whips and that no migrants were whipped or struck by the horses’ reins.
Although one agent was accused of using “offensive” language when addressing illegal migrants and of maneuvering his horse in an “unsafe manner” near a minor, the “news” about whips and floggings was dismantled in its entirety by the investigation ordered by Mayorkas.
Mayorkas racks up reasons for his dismissal
As El American’s Editorial Board said in January, the Republican leadership has begun contemplating Mayorkas’ impeachment. In light of the Heritage Foundation’s finding, Republican Congressman Michael Cloud, R-Texas, joined the lawsuit.
“Alejandro Mayorkas knew the facts, yet still chose to smear our brave border patrol,” Cloud said on Twitter. “If only he had an ounce of the CBP’s courage he purports to lead.”
Also, Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham warned Mayorkas that he could face impeachment for his decisions regarding the border crisis.
Tomás Lugo, journalist and writer. Born in Venezuela and graduated in Social Communication. Has written for international media outlets. Currently living in Colombia // Tomás Lugo, periodista y articulista. Nacido en Venezuela y graduado en Comunicación Social. Ha escrito para medios internacionales. Actualmente reside en Colombia.