The president said Border Patrol agents were victimizing migrants: “Horses run them over, people being strapped.” However, critics have pointed out the agents were holding onto reins to control the horses, not whips or straps for migrants.
“Of course I take responsibility,” Biden said. “I’m president, but it was horrible what you saw.”
“To see people treated like they did, horses barely running over, people being strapped– —it’s outrageous,” Biden said. “I promise you, those people will pay. There will be an investigation underway now and there will be consequences. There will be consequences.”
He added that it is “an embarrassment, but beyond an embarrassment, it’s dangerous.”
“It’s wrong,” he said. “It sends the wrong message around the world. It sends the wrong message at home.”
He added: “It’s simply not who we are.”
The president’s comments come after the Biden administration on Thursday said it was prohibiting Border Patrol agents from using horses in the Del Rio sector amid Democratic outrage over images that lawmakers falsely claimed showed agents using “whips” to stop Haitian migrants getting into the United States.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Thursday said that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that “we would no longer be using horses in Del Rio.”
A DHS spokesperson later said in a statement: “We have ceased the use of the horse patrol in Del Rio temporarily. We’ll prioritize other methods for identifying individuals who might be in medical distress.”
The revelation comes on the fourth day of controversy related to the false claims that agents used “whips” against Haitian migrants on Sunday – a claim that was initially debunked by Mayorkas and Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz on Monday, who noted that agents were wielding long reins to control their horses in difficult riverines.
Other Border Patrol sources have noted that agents will spin or twirl their reins in order to move the horse forward as a signal to the horse. So far no images have been presented of migrants being hit by the reins.
However, as the White House condemned the images, by Tuesday Mayorkas had changed his stance.
“I was horrified by what I saw,” Mayorkas told CNN. “I’m going to let the investigation run its course. But the pictures that I observed troubled me profoundly. That defies all of the values that we seek to instill in our people.”
On Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris said she supported an investigation and was “deeply troubled” by the allegations.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer decried “images of inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants by Border Patrol—including the use of whips.”
The agents involved have since been moved to administrative duty.
The narrative that the agents used “whips” has continued to gather steam among activists and left-wing Democrats, who have then infused a racial narrative into the mix, given that the Haitians are Black.
“What we witnessed takes us back hundreds of years,” Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said this week. “What we witnessed was worse than what we witnessed in slavery … cowboys with their reins, again, whipping black people.”
As those claimed to continue to move forward, without evidence, agents expressed anger to Fox News about the move, which they said will make them less safe.
“It will make patrolling extremely difficult along with security. This is insane. The agents did nothing wrong,” one agent told Fox.
Meanwhile, former acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan tore into Mayorkas, accusing of throwing agents “under the bus.”
“It’s reckless, it’s irresponsible, it’s unconscionable and this guy has got to go,” he told Fox News. “He continues to lie to the American people about the basic pieces of information he should know, he lies about why he doesn’t have it, and now he’s absolutely lost the respect of every single Border Patrol agent under his charge because of what he’s done.”
Fox News’ Bill Melugin and Peter Hasson contributed to this report.