Report Whitewashes 2021 Border Patrol Attack on Haitian Migrants at U.S.-Mexico Border
A report released last week by the Office of Professional Accountability of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) whitewashes last year’s assault on thousands of mostly Haitian migrants in a brutal anti-immigrant campaign involving federal and Texas state forces and overseen by the Biden administration.
The 500-page report reviews the events of September 19, 2021, when around 15,000 migrants, mostly from Haiti, had gathered in a slum-like camp under a freeway overpass in Del Rio. , Texas, after crossing the border from Mexico. The migrants were met with a savage repression by Border Patrol agents, as confirmed by video footage, photographic images and eyewitness accounts from several news agencies. Border Patrol thugs on horseback swinging their reins like whips and charging at the helpless refugees sent shockwaves around the world.
The report notes that Mounted Border Patrol agents used “unnecessary” force against migrants and did so in the absence of clear instructions from their superiors. Officers took command of the Texas State Police and improperly “used force or the threat of force” to push the migrants back into the Rio Grande they had crossed.
Chris Magnus, the CBP commissioner, said at a news conference on Friday that the agency had sought to require officers to take orders only from their own supervisors instead of local authorities in Texas. The mounted patrol unit that rushed the migrants was carrying out a request from the Texas Department of Public Safety, not Border Patrol senior management.
A local Border Patrol supervisor reportedly approved the request from Texas authorities without obtaining approval from higher federal authorities. The report notes that the decision to carry out the operation “resulted in the unnecessary use of force against migrants attempting to return to the United States with food.”
Magnus recounted a degrading obscenity uttered by one of the fascist Border Patrol thugs caught in a taped statement. The officer, who is one of four officers currently facing disciplinary action for charging the migrants on horseback, was recorded telling a Haitian refugee, “That’s why your country is crap because you use your wives for that. The same officer also reportedly steered his horse dangerously close to a child while pursuing the migrant he had shouted at.
Magnus’ comments came just a day after Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered state authorities to turn back migrants they apprehend at the border in clear violation of federal authority to enforce immigration laws. In a fascist tirade delivered during a Fox News interview on Sunday, Abbott provocatively said an “invasion” was happening on the southern border, led by “cartels.”
The far-right governor raises the prospect of even more border crackdowns by empowering state law enforcement and National Guard troops to bring migrants to entry points. Republican politicians across the country have demanded that state authorities be given the ability to deport migrants from the country once they have entered it, a procedure that only federal authorities can administer.
In a press release last week, Abbott announced an executive order authorizing state law enforcement to apprehend “immigrants who cross the border between ports of entry or commit other violations of federal law. , and send them back” to the entry points. It comes as record numbers of immigrants seek to cross the border to escape the misery and gang violence in Latin America and the Caribbean, the result of decades of imperialist oppression and subjugation.
Republican officials are also demanding that Abbott invoke “invasion” powers under the Constitution which contains a federal guarantee of protection from invasion and affirms the retained power of local officials to repel supposed threats on the southern border. The goal is to give states a strong legal basis to invoke war powers to allow the state’s National Guard to deport migrants.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Friday denounced the Republican action as a mere political stunt by Abbott, saying: “Immigration law enforcement is a federal authority, and states shouldn’t mandate it – get involved.”
The September 19, 2021 assault is proof that the blame for the crackdown on refugees and immigrants on the southern border rests with both fascistic Republican lawmakers and the Democratic Party.
Media coverage of the CBP report framed the violent event as a “challenge” to the Biden administration, recalling Biden’s lukewarm promise last fall that “these people will pay” for the violent assault. Left out entirely, the anti-immigrant campaign is in direct line with Biden’s policies, as more than 208,000 migrants were in detention as of August 2021 and the Democratic administration has overseen record deportations.
As of February this year, more than 20,000 Haitian migrants had been returned to the Caribbean nation since Biden’s inauguration, according to Witness at the Border. The Panel found that 161 of the 198 planes carrying the desperate refugees, containing around 17,900 people, flew in just five months since 19 September. It both shatters the Republican Party’s absurd claim that Biden and the Democrats are chasing a “frontier” and discredits the Democrats’ hypocritical claims to support refugee rights.
Additionally, nothing has been done so far to prosecute the four officers directly responsible for the horse charge. The so-called “disciplinary measure” applied is an improvised punishment, with officers simply being demoted to administrative positions.
The mostly Haitian refugees had traveled to and from Mexico for food and other essentials, and were residing inside the makeshift camp under the highway bridge to avoid crossing the lines set up in the United States and being arrested by the Border Patrol and the Texas State Police. .
Despite widespread international condemnation of the assault in Del Rio, the Biden administration began summarily deporting refugees in an airlift to the Caribbean just days after the incident. Many had not lived in Haiti for years and were forced to return to fight homelessness and starvation in a country long oppressed by US imperialism and ruled by a corrupt Haitian oligarchy.
Claims of the Biden administration’s ostensible concern for the plight of migrants were exposed by the report, which significantly downplays and conceals the Border Patrol’s inhumane and criminal treatment of migrants. Investigators concluded there was no evidence to support claims by migrants and others that officers used horse reins to whip migrants.
The infamous images and video footage of the incident, which circulated widely online in the following days, clearly showed federal agents rounding up migrants in and around the Rio Grande, whipping and herding them as they sought to cross the River.
One of the images was actually printed on an unofficial Border Patrol commemorative coin, known as a “challenge” coin. On the piece, a Border Patrol agent is seen chasing Haitian migrants. Although it is not known who produced the coins or at what scale they were distributed, many believe the coins are linked to Border Patrol agents.
The growing denial of asylum and the rapid deportation of migrants expose the hypocritical and fraudulent claims of US imperialism and its claim to fight for democracy in its predatory war between the United States and NATO against the Russia in Ukraine. The horrific scenes at the border testify to the union of the two capitalist parties in their attacks on the democratic rights of the poorest and most vulnerable.