Emails show Mayorkas knew border whipping story was bogus

Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 13, 2022

By Ari Blaff, National Review

Documents obtained by the Heritage Foundation following a Freedom of Information Act request are casting fresh doubts on last year’s whipping controversy concerning U.S. Border Patrol agents.

According to the newly released emails, Department of Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was aware the popular narrative that Border Patrol agents whipped a group of Haitian migrants was false hours before he declared the incident “horrific” during a White House press conference. One of Mayorkas’ staffers sent him an email less than three hours before the press conference relaying the account of photographer Paul Ratje, who took the viral photos and said the salacious account of what happened was false.

“I’ve never seen them whip anyone,” Ratje said in a quote provided to Mayorkas. “He [Border Patrol agent] was swinging it [reins] but it can be misconstrued when you’re looking at the picture.”

Rather than using the information he was provided to correct the narrative, Mayorkas perpetuated the media’s misleading account of the incident by suggesting that something requiring investigation had occurred.

“I want to assure you that we are addressing this with tremendous speed and tremendous force,” Mayorkas said at the time. “The facts will drive the action we take.”

“The investigation will be all-encompassing; we will not cut a single corner,” he vowed.

Prominent Democrats, including President Biden himself, uncritically regurgitated the media’s account of the incident.

“It was horrible to see what you saw, to see people treated like they did—horses barely running them over and people being strapped,” Biden said at the time. “It’s outrageous. I promise you those people will pay…. There will be consequences. It’s an embarrassment. But beyond an embarrassment it’s dangerous, it’s wrong.” Similar rhetoric was echoed by Vice President Kamala Harris noting it reminded her of the “times of slavery.”

Speaking with National Review last year, George Syer, a retired horse patrol coordinator, noted that the conduct of the Border Patrol agents was actually standard procedure. “It’s a training tool, and it’s a training aid if a horse does not want to cooperate with its rider,” Syer explained.

Nevertheless, the agents involved were subsequently placed on administrative leave and then investigated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Although the investigation ultimately cleared them of whipping, disciplinary charges were brought against four agents for endangering migrants.

Read more at National Review.

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