It’s been more than 50 days since the Department of Homeland Security launched an internal investigation into the U.S. Border Patrol. In September, photos of agents riding horseback with literal whips (or “lariats” as they call them) showed them chasing back terrified migrants at the Texan border.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas promised a swift investigation later that month after public outrage erupted over the disheartening pictures and videos coming from the Rio Grande.
This week several agents were expected to be interviewed over the incident, according to ABC News.
It’s unclear how many subjects of the investigation have been identified at this point, but the law enforcement official who spoke to ABC News said most of the interviews scheduled this week involve potential witnesses.
At least two agents were placed on administrative duties following the incident. CBP confirmed the agents involved remain on administrative detail and the horse patrol unit is still suspended from operating in the city of Del Rio, which includes a narrow strip of the international bridge where a Haitian group gathered in September.
Progress updates on any related investigation have largely been kept to a small group of principals. Some at the highest ranks of CBP are out of the loop with the goal of ensuring an independent process.
Law enforcement officials told CBS News that at least six agents were sitting with investigators on Tuesday and Wednesday.
However, many feel the investigation is not moving quickly enough.
Mayorkas said that the review would be wrapped up in “days, not weeks” back in September. I don’t know if anyone else has been counting, but it’s November.
“I’m very disappointed that this investigation has taken as long as it has taken,” said Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union for patrol agents, according to CBS. The union provided legal representation to the agents called in for the investigation.
Activists also share the same frustrations as the union president, but have focused on calling for policy changes.
And while immigration advocates share the frustration in the slow pace of the investigation, they have also called on DHS to establish more oversight of cavalry units. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas wrote a letter to Mayorkas in late September urging CBP to update its “use of force” policy to “appropriately limit the use of horse-mounted agents, lariats, and abusive language.”
“It certainly should not have taken five days, let alone 50 days to conduct an investigation into activities that are so blatantly and clearly caught on camera,” said Shaw Drake, staff attorney and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. “This incident in Del Rio is an isolated event that exposes specific issues with horse mounted units and CBP ‘Use of Force’ policy, but it’s also a symptom of a larger problem.”
According to CBS, one agent was caught on video yelling at a migrant man huddled with women and children, “This is why your country’s s**t, because you use your women for this.”
When the investigation first began, cavalry units were demobilized, CBS notes, but they have since continued to patrol the border.
“It’s outrageous, I promise you, those people will pay,” President Joe Biden said when the news of the photos first broke. “They will be — there is an investigation underway now, and there will be consequences. There will be consequences.”
Where are the consequences Uncle Joe? All we’ve seen so far is the U.S. expelling thousands of migrants—with no chance for asylum— for days on end.