Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota on Monday said video footage of Border Patrol agents on horseback whipping Haitian migrants attempting to cross the US-Mexico border showed “human rights abuses.”
US Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
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“These are human rights abuses, plain and simple.Cruel, inhumane, and a violation of domestic and international law,” Omar said in a tweet. “This needs a course correction and the issuance of a clear directive on how to humanely process asylums seekers at our border.”
The incident occurred over the weekend near Del Rio, Texas, as Haitian migrants sought to wade across the Rio Grande. Video footage from Al Jazeera showed agents on horseback using their reins as whips as they charged the migrants and sought to push them back, with one agent yelling, “This is why your country’s shit, because you use your women for this.”
US Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.Many people have fled Haiti, which has faced myriad challenges for years, in recent months as the embattled country struggles with ongoing violence, poverty, and political strife.
Haiti has had a particularly chaotic year due to the political turmoil brought on by the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, which was closely followed by a devastating earthquake in August that killed over 2,000 people.
Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas traveled to Del Rio on Monday as local and federal officials move to deport or relocate the migrants to detention centers.
“We have seen a significant influx of Haitian migrants in Del Rio, TX. But we are surging resources, and @DHSgov is taking a multi-prong approach to this,” Mayorkas said in tweets on Sunday. “We’ve surged approximately 600 agents so that we can gain complete control. We are moving people rapidly to other processing centers to ensure safety and security.”
“We have sent a very clear message early on, in light of the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic, that the border is not open, and people should not take the perilous journey here,” Mayorkas added.
Thousands of migrants have gathered in a makeshift camp under a bridge in Del Rio.