The US Department of Homeland Security is investigating the treatment of migrants at the southern border as “extremely disturbing” images of what appear to be border patrol officers on horseback chasing and dispersing migrants have surfaced in recent days.
“DHS does not tolerate the mistreatment of migrants in our custody and we take these allegations very seriously,” a DHS statement released Monday said. “The footage is extremely disturbing and the facts from the full investigation, which will be conducted expeditiously, will define the appropriate disciplinary action to be taken.”
The footage comes as thousands of migrants, many of them Haitians, wait under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, to be treated by US immigration authorities. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visited Del Rio on Monday and ordered Professional Accountability Office staff “to be on site full time to ensure that DHS staff responsibilities are carried out in accordance with applicable policies and training and departmental values, âDHS said.
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The videos appear to show officers on horseback confronting migrants and swinging long reins. In one video, an officer’s horse nearly charges one of the migrants, forcing him back into the water, while in another video an officer can be heard denigrating the migrants’ home country with profanity .
Mayorkas told CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday that he was “horrified” by the footage and footage he saw of the border scene.
“I will let the investigation take its course. But the images I observed disturbed me deeply.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday that the White House was seeking more information on the “gruesome” border videos.
âI saw some footage. I don’t have all the context. I can’t imagine what context would make this appropriate,â Psaki said during a press briefing. “I don’t think anyone seeing these images would think it was acceptable or appropriate.”