White House still blames Border agents despite clarification

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The White House said Monday it is standing by its criticism of U.S. Border Patrol agents despite a Texas newspaper walking back its report that one of the mounted agents was using a whip on Haitian migrants trying to cross the Rio Grande into the US.  

The El Paso Times published a clarification in Sunday’s editions about the Sept. 19 report that claimed an agent “swung his whip menacingly.”

The newspaper changed the story to read: “Our reporting team witnessed at least one agent on horseback swing his reins like a whip.”

“We have updated the story to clarify that fact since it was not an actual whip,” the El Paso Times said.

Asked whether the clarification from the El Paso Times changed the White House’s view of events in light of its criticism of the Border Patrol agents last week, press secretary Jen Psaki said it did not.

“I don’t think anyone could look at those photos and think that was appropriate action or behavior or something that should be accepted within our administration,” she told reporters.

a United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande
A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande, September 19, 2021.
PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images

“There’s an investigation that’s ongoing. We’ll let that play out, but our reaction to the photos has not changed,” she added.

Late last week, even the photographer who took the shots, Paul Ratje, said they could be “misconstrued.”

“I’ve never seen them whip anyone,” Ratje told KTSM 9 News.

a United States Border Patrol agent on horseback uses the reins to try and stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas
The US Border Patrol halted using horses in migrant operations around Del Rio, Texas, the White House said on September 23, 2021.
PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images

“He was swinging it,” Ratje said of one agent who can be seen spinning his rein back into place, “but it can be misconstrued when you’re looking at the picture.”

Photos of the Border Patrol agents using their horses to block the migrants from entering the US went viral and prompted calls of condemnation from Democratic lawmakers, including President Biden, who said the agents “will pay.”

“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,” Biden said.

United States Border Patrol agents on horseback try to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended his department on September 22, 2021 after images showing horse-mounted immigration officers chasing down Haitian migrants on the border with Mexico went viral.
PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images



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