President Joe Biden signaled Tuesday that his administration will address the situation at the southern border, where 15,000 Haitian migrants fleeing disaster are estimated to have traveled seeking asylum.
“We’ll get it under control,” Biden told reporters during his visit to the United Nations when he was asked about images from the border that have prompted outrage in recent days.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday that Biden was briefed about the emergency at the bridge at Del Rio, Texas, where migrants have set up encampments. She said Biden has also been briefed about what she said were “horrific” video and photos of the treatment of Haitian migrants by Border Patrol agents, which have prompted an internal investigation by the Department of Homeland Security.
Biden “believes that the footage, the footage and the photos, are horrific,” she said. “They don’t represent who we are as a country, and he was pleased to see the announcement of the investigation. He certainly supports that. And obviously, there’ll be a determination made on next steps once that concludes.”
Photos and videos emerged this week from journalists and others documenting events at the Del Rio bridge of Border Patrol agents on horseback chasing Haitian migrants, including one holding what appeared to be a whip.
Testifying Tuesday before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he had been “horrified to see the images.”
“We do not tolerate any mistreatment or abuse of a migrant, period,” he said.
Mayorkas suggested Monday that the agent was holding long reins, not a whip. Reuters reported that some witnesses described agents as holding lariats.
Mayorkas told MSNBC’s “The Reid Out” that the department has identified the agents and they have been placed on administrative duties while the investigation is underway. The secretary said that the investigation is expected to be completed as soon as next week and the results will be made public.
DHS also released a statement last week detailing its strategy to address the border upheaval, including placing 400 more agents and officers in the Del Rio sector, moving migrants from the region to other processing locations and working with countries in the region to accept migrants.
NBC News reported last week that Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to increase deportation flights to Haiti. ICE plans to fly eight deportation flights to Haiti and will then increase the number to 10 a week.