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Border agents used ‘unnecessary’ force against Haitian migrants, report finds

Border Patrol agents who confronted Haitian migrants on horseback at the Texas border in September used “unnecessary” force, according to a report released Friday.

Four agents involved in the incident have been referred for possible discipline, but the results of that process have not been finalized, senior Customs and Border Protection officials said in a press call Friday.

The investigation by the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility found no evidence that agents “struck, intentionally or otherwise, any migrant with their reins.”

A Sept. 19 photograph by AFP showing an agent on horseback leaning over and grabbing a Haitian man by the shirt had raised questions about whether migrants had been whipped with reins.

The clashes between Haitian migrants and Border Patrol agents were the result of a lack of “command, control and communications,” the report said. The agents acted at the direction of Texas law enforcement, according to the report.

The incident led to widespread outrage, prompting President Biden to criticize the response of the agents.

By Sept. 19, around 15,000 Haitian migrants had gathered under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.

The migrants had been given tickets that allowed them to be processed by border agents. Border officials decided to allow the Haitian migrants to cross back and forth across the Rio Grande River to get food and water.

For about 15 minutes that day, Border Patrol agents on horseback attempted to stop migrants from exiting the river on the U.S. side.

Two agents used their horses “to forcibly block migrants from exiting the river and chased migrants who had successfully exited the river, including grabbing one by the shirt and spinning him around,” the report said.

One of the agents chased a migrant along the edge of the river, and his horse had to “narrowly maneuver around a small child.” According to the report, one of the agents said that he was “aware several of the migrants were in possession” of the tickets given by border officials.

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