Photographs of Haitian refugees and migrants being pursued by border patrol agents on horseback spark huge outrage! Many are demanding an investigation and questioning why the agents were on horseback at all. Here is everything to know about the border patrols use of horses.
Over the last week, outrage and questions arouse when images of mounted border patrol agents using the horses to charge at Haitian refugees. The images show agents using long reins as whips not only on the horses but also the people they are trying to ‘control’. Many were deeply disturbed about the treatment of the animals and the people.
Border Patrol Suspends Horse Patrols
Last week, the Department of Homeland Security made a statement that said they will “prioritize other methods of identifying individuals who might be in medical distress.” Texas Governor, Greg Abbott has put the blame on President Joe Biden saying “because the Biden administration is doing nothing to secure our border, it has been the state of Texas that has had to step up and address this challenge.”
Amid the outrage, the U.S. Border Patrol has temporarily suspended agents on horseback against Haitian refugees in Del Rio Texas. However, the question still remains, why were they on horseback to begin with?
Why Are They On Horses At All?
“Mounted Guards” or Border Agents on horseback have been employed under the now non-functioning U.S. Immigration Service all the way back to 1904. These “guards” operate out of El Paso, Texas but patrol as far as California. Their primary motive is to look for immigrants and others trying to illegally cross the border.
Mounted Border Patrol Agents History
These mounted border agents have used horses in their efforts to secure the border since 1904. However, why they are used in 2021 is undergoing questioning.
Horses Still Remain Key Part Of Border Patrol
Horses were of more value to the agents than their uniforms. Newer recruits would bring their own horse and saddle, while the government provides food for the horses. Motor vehicles were introduced in 1935 and came with radios and other equipment. However, mounted agents would explore terrain that was inaccessible to these vehicles.
During President Obama’s administration, mounted agents once again came into question. It was understood that some terrain was much easier to navigate through on horseback. However, their use in wide open spaces with thousands of people is not understood.
According to former commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Gil Kerlikowske, “border agents being mounted on horses is not unprecedented, but it is unprecedented when you’re bringing them into a crowd.”
Is Excessive Force Really ‘Strictly Prohibited’?
According to the CBP, the use of excessive force is strictly prohibited. However, ‘”reasonable force” is to be determined by the officer, “rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.” According to policy, border agents do not have to retreat or wait for an attack because using “reasonable force” to stop a threat. This has come into question many times throughout its history. Amidst the Black Lives Matter protests that have taken place all over the country, all policing and patrolling is under scrutiny.
Is it really “following procedure” to charge on horseback at people fleeing a country devastated by natural disasters and corrupt governments? Many agents are saying it is common practice for agents to have “loose reins” to control the horse. However, the photos clearly show officers using them as whips against the horses and weapons against the people. Both of which are out of line and extremely hostile.
What Do You Think Of Mounted Border Patrol Agents?
There is plenty of risk bringing a horse into a crowded area. Whether it is in a city or on the border, it is dangerous for everyone involved. If someone were to grab the horse by the head or reins, it puts the horse and rider in danger. This can lead to death or serious injury.
Do you think police horses or mounted border patrol agents are necessary this day and age? Additionally, about 4,000 refugees and migrants are at a camp in Del Rio and bout two-thirds of the entire group were families.
We chose not to use the photos of agents whipping horses or people out of respect for the possible harm or trauma it can cause.