Border agents could get minimal punishment for using horses

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Border agents could get minimal punishment for using horses

The Border Patrol agents depicted in photos last week using their horses to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing into the United States could receive “minimal” punishment — after President Biden threatened to make them “pay.” 

Days after the photos first emerged — causing controversy among some inside the Beltway who thought the reins looked like “whips” — Biden promised that the federal agents would “pay,” calling their use of their reins an “embarrassment.”

“It was horrible what you see, what you saw — to see people treated like they did, with horses nearly running them over and people being strapped. It’s outrageous. I promise you, those people will pay,” he said​ last Friday. ​

The photos went viral last week after they showed the Border Patrol agents maneuvering their horses to block illegal immigrants from entering Del Rio, Texas. Democrats and activists accused the agents of using their long reins as “whips” against the migrants — but the photographer behind the images said he didn’t see anyone whipped. 

The photographer, Paul Ratije, admitted the agents were “swinging” the reins, but said “it can be misconstrued when you’re looking at the picture.”

Border Patrol agents on horseback.
Photos showed the Border Patrol agents maneuvering their horses to block illegal immigrants from entering Del Rio, Texas.
Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images

“I didn’t ever see them whip anybody with the thing,” he said.

The Department of Homeland Security is investigating the incident and has placed the agents involved on administrative duty, where they are not interacting with any migrants. The Biden administration has also discontinued the use of horses by Border Patrol agents in Del Rio. 

While DHS has not hinted what repercussions the federal agents could face, senior administration officials told Fox News that they may only be hit with a few days’ paid suspension, calling it a “non-issue.”

Border agent on a horse.
Democrats and activists accused the border agents of using their reins as “whips” against the migrants.
Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images

One official told the outlet that the incident was the first time the horse unit was assigned to the bridge and first exposure to the migrant surge. The agents involved reportedly did not have clear guidelines for engagement but went to assist other agents along the river. 

“They did their job,” the official said.

Republicans have slammed the criticism against the agents, saying they were just doing their job in protecting the border. 

On Sunday, ​Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the Lone Star State will hire any Border Patrol agents who fear being fired.

​”You have a job in the state of Texas. I will hire you to help Texas secure our border​,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Abbott accused the Biden administration of putting the Border Patrol agents in a difficult situation because it failed to enforce the country’s immigration laws and secure the border.

President Joe Biden.
The Biden administration has discontinued the use of horses by Border Patrol agents in Del Rio, Texas.
Al Drago/Getty Images

“The person who took those pictures said that the characterization that the Democrats have made about the Border Patrol using them as whips, whipping people who were coming across the border is false. They were simply maneuvering horses,” he continued. 

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