Journalists, media outlets and politicians erroneously claimed Monday that images shared widely on social media show border patrol officers whipping Haitian migrants attempting to enter the U.S. near Texas.
Critics flagged the bunk reporting and resulting commentary as another false liberal narrative in the making.
Prominent liberals were among those who promoted a false or misleading narrative about the U.S. policing action on its southern border.
- MSNBC host Joy Reid: “Should we be looking at the budget for Homeland Security? Because I was not aware that whips which come from the slave era, slavery era, were part of the package that we issue to any sort of law enforcement or government sanction personnel.”
- The Atlantic contributing writer Jemele Hill: “Um … why are U.S. Border agents using whips on Haitians?”
- Vice News reporter Emily Green: “Border Patrol officers on horseback swinging whips in the faces of Haitians.”
- El Paso Times reporter Martha Psowski: “The agent swung his whip menacingly, charging his horse toward the men in the river who were trying to return to an encampment under the international bridge in Del Rio after buying food and water in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.”
- Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR: “Use of whips on refugees? Disturbing and unacceptable. This must end immediately.”
- Border patrol is mounted on horseback rounding up Haitian refugees with whips. This is unfathomable cruelty towards people fleeing disaster and political ruin. The administration must stop this.
On Monday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas explained that Border Patrol agents carry reins – not whips – and said that based on his initial viewing of the images and video, it was not obvious the agents had acted inappropriately.
Money quote: “We do not carry whips and the only thing I see in their hands is reins,” one border patrol agent told Fox News. “BP does an excellent job when it comes to use of force training. There is no way a horse patrol unit would be whipping aliens. Whips are not issued or authorized for use.”
WHAT THE MEDIA MISSED
The current narrative about whips can be seen as part of a larger mischaracterization, which betrays the media’s pro-immigration bias.
- Commentators on the right have accused members of the media of ignoring the Haitian refugee crisis until now, when they can cover the story from a humanitarian perspective.
- What the Del Rio footage arguably shows is how overwhelmed Border Patrol agents are by the roughly 15,000 migrants who have set up a makeshift refugee camp from which they sometimes cross into Mexico to buy supplies.
- According to The Dispatch, “After several abortive attempts to intimidate the crossers into going back themselves, [agents] retreated and allowed the migrants to return to the camp.”
In 2014, HuffPost journalist Ryan Reilly mistook earplugs for rubber bullets while covering civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri following the police-involved shooting of Michael Brown.
WHY ARE THERE THOUSANDS OF HAITIAN MIGRANTS IN TEXAS?
A combination of political instability in their homelands and a loosening of immigration restrictions in the United States has contributed to the influx of migrants to the border.
- The surge began in the months after President Joe Biden reversed many of his predecessor’s immigration policies, which to some served as a sign of a more pro-immigrant America, The New York Times reported.
- Meanwhile, political and economic upheaval in Haiti, whose president was assassinated in July, spurred Haitians to flee the country.
On Tuesday, Mayorkas backtracked on his initial position and said during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” that he was “horrified” by the images of the Border Patrol agents herding Haitian migrants.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility announced that it has launched a formal investigation into the incident.
, which came as some 15,000 people, mostly Haitians, gathered under a bridge near in Texas
Around 15,000 people, mostly Haitians, have now set up camp in the shadow of the bridge on the Texas side of the river—a bizarre situation in which many frequently cross back over the border to buy food, water, and other supplies in Mexico before returning to the camp.