“The facts will drive the actions that we take,” Mayorkas said in September. “We ourselves will pull no punches and we need to conduct this investigation thoroughly, but very quickly. It will be completed in days, if not weeks.”
Now, as October comes to an end, the investigation is said to still be ongoing – as its conclusion threatens to create a political headache for the Biden administration.
“The investigation is ongoing,” a DHS spokesperson told Fox on Friday. “The Department is committed to a thorough, independent, and objective process. We are also committed to transparency and will release the results of the investigation once it is complete.”
The controversy began with the emergence of images showing agents on horseback blocking Haitian migrants from entering the U.S. in a Del Rio riverine, and in one case grabbing onto a migrant’s shirt.
However, some media outlets and Democratic lawmakers misidentified the agents’ split reins, which they use to control the horse, as “whips” and accused the agents of whipping the migrants. The photographer who took the images, meanwhile, said that he did not see anyone whip anyone either.
Some outlets later qualified their description as “whip-like cords” but many Democrats, including congressional leaders, forged ahead with the claim – and it soon spread to the White House.
“To see people treated like they did, horses barely running over, people being strapped – it’s outrageous,” Biden said, making a whipping motion with his hand. “I promise you, those people will pay. There will be an investigation underway now and there will be consequences. There will be consequences.”
His comments infuriated Border Patrol agents as they saw the president throw their agents under the bus.
“Would you go to work and do your best knowing that if you do your boss is going to ‘make you pay’?” one agent told Fox News. “I’m dumbfounded and don’t know what to say.”
Mayorkas had initially backed the agents alongside Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz, noting the use of reins to control the horse. He later claimed he had not seen the images when he made those remarks and, while staying away from the “whip” claims, continued to call the images disturbing as the agents were placed on desk duty and the use of horses were ended in the Del Rio Sector.
“The investigation into what occurred has not yet concluded. We know that those images painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation’s ongoing battle against systemic racism,” he said.
Chris Magnus, Biden’s pick to lead Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – which oversees Border Patrol – recently described the images as “troubling” although he also stayed away from making claims about whips, and said conclusions should not be drawn until the investigation is complete.