We have all seen the iconic photo allegedly showing a horse-mounted Border Patrol agent “whipping” a Haitian migrant on the banks of the Rio Grande on Sept. 24, 2021. We now all know that the report was false. No “whipping” or “strapping” ever occurred.
The Border Patrol agent captured in the photo was using split reins to better control his horse, and Paul Ratje just happened to click his camera as the motion of the animal caused the reins to flare out. As Ratje stated, “Some of the Haitian men started running, trying to go around the horses. I’ve never seen them whip anyone.”
The American public only found out later that, in Ratje’s own words, the photo was “misconstrued.” The White House and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas knew almost immediately. A Sept. 24, 2021 email obtained by the Heritage Foundation under a Freedom of Information Act request (actually, they had to sue DHS to get it) reveals that they knew the whipping narrative was a lie more than two hours before President Joe Biden publicly accused border agents of “strapping” migrants and vowed that “those people will pay.”
Shortly thereafter, Mayorkas, who was already aware that the accounts of the incident were very much in doubt, added more fuel to the fire by suggesting that racism played a role in the Border Patrol agents’ actions. “Our nation saw horrifying images that do not reflect who we are. We know that those images painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation’s ongoing battle against systemic racism,” Mayorkas charged.
The “smoking gun” email reveals that far from being a “fog of war” incident, the administration’s incendiary, and knowingly false, response was the escalation of an actual war it began waging on Jan. 20, 2021 against border security and immigration enforcement. On this new front, the honorable men and women who are trying to enforce those laws also became targets. The email provides further evidence that Mayorkas, who took an oath to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office” is in contempt of that oath.
Following the orders of President Biden and acting on his own, Mayorkas has willfully spearheaded the purposeful abandonment of the laws of the United States and the successful policies of the previous administration to secure our borders and protect our people. On that basis alone, he must be brought up on impeachment charges in the next Congress.
In relentless pursuit of the Biden administration’s unconstitutional objective of nullifying the nation’s immigration and border enforcement statutes, the lives and careers of the three Border Patrol agents knowingly and falsely accused by both the president of the secretary were mere collateral damage.
More broadly, what Mayorkas has done has resulted in the death and endangerment of Americans, damage to property and communities across the border, loss of operational control of our border to dangerous cartels imprisoning thousands of migrants sold into human trafficking, and the fueling of deadly drug poisonings of thousands of Americans. This is clearly a violation of the oath Mayorkas took to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
In spite of a comprehensive investigation of the incident by U.S. Customs and Border Protection concluding that there was “no evidence” that Border Patrol agents whipped or struck migrants in the course of carrying out their duties, neither President Biden nor Secretary Mayorkas has publicly conceded that their statements were erroneous, much less intentionally false. The agents continue to face unpaid suspensions and a black mark on their records. Nor are we likely to hear any sort of contrition from the White House because, as the email revealed in the FOIA suit confirms, much as in actual wars, truth has become a casualty in this administration’s war against the immigration laws they are seeking to undermine.
Dan Stein is president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).