After backlash and outrage across social media, the White House is addressing viral photos and video of border patrol agents in Texas seen riding around horseback and whipping Haitian migrants attempting to cross the Rio Grande into the United States.
“I have 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,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, according to NBC News. “I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it’s acceptable or appropriate.”
Reuters reports hundreds of Haitian migrants have been living in a makeshift campsite under a bridge in the town of Del Rio, Texas while awaiting the progression of their pending immigration status. U.S. officials have permitted them to go to Ciudad Acuña in Mexico in pursuit of food and supplies, and return through a shallow point of the river.
Video is circulating of the violent interactions. [Content Warning: Graphic Violence]
That permission was revoked over the weekend when agents began returning migrants to Haiti while those who traveled into Mexico were told they wouldn’t be allowed to come back into the United States.
Video posted on Twitter shows an agent wielding a whip and swinging at a migrant as they struggled to navigate through the water. Another incident showed an officer grab the shirt of a man carrying bags of food, which was captured in the above picture. Both managed to evade officers.
“We are constantly assessing circumstances on the ground.” Psaki said. “Obviously our objective here is not just to work to address the circumstances — which are very difficult — in Del Rio, but also to continue to work with the officials in Haiti to improve the conditions [and] to provide assistance. We’re doing all these pieces at the same time.”
Psaki wouldn’t comment on whether the Biden Administration will change their policy over returning migrants to Haiti.