Border patrol agents on horseback in Del Rio drew outrage. Why do they still ride horses?

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Video and photos of Haitian migrants on horseback by Customs and Border Protection agents at the US-Mexico border on Sunday expressed outrage and prompted an investigation, even as some questioned why the agents were hired at all.

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Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.N.Y., The actions of agents are called a “Stain on our country” Monday, while Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Min., said it was “Cruel, inhumane and a violation of domestic and international law.”

Photos show mounted Border Patrol agents waving reins in the air and charging migrants as they carry little luggage across the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas.


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, on Tuesday blamed the incident on the Biden administration.

“Since the Biden administration is doing nothing to secure our border, it has been the state of Texas that has faced this challenge.” Abbott said during a visit to Del RioAccording to the El Paso Times.

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Abbott called on the Biden administration to declare a federal emergency for the state of Texas because of the situation at the border.

Criticized from all sides, Biden scrambles to address rise of Haitian migrants at southern border

Why does CBP use agents on horses? And are they allowed to use force? Here is a history.

Mounted Agents Predict CBP

“mounted guard,” or US southern border patrol inspectorThe rider, on horseback, was employed under the now-defunct US Immigration Service as early as 1904, according to the CBP’s official website.

The guards operated from El Paso, Texas, but patrolled as far west as California, searching for Chinese immigrants and others who were trying to cross the border illegally.

Horses will continue to be an important part of patrol

The US Border Patrol was officially Established after Congress passed the Labor Appropriation Act of 1924. Its mission was to secure the borders between inspection stations and to patrol the coast.

Horses were more valuable to agents than uniforms—which would come four years later. All the new recruits equipped their horse and saddle, while the government supplied oats and hay for the animals.

The Border Patrol began using motorized vehicles equipped with radios in 1935, but to this day, mounted agents crossing areas inaccessible to other means of transit.

Gil Kerlikowski, former commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection under President Barack Obama, pointed to difficult agriculture in Texas, particularly the carrizo cane, which grows six to ten feet high near the Rio Grande, as a reason to ride on a horse. Border agents are helpful. But he said he doesn’t think they should have been used “in wide open spaces where you have literally thousands of people.”

Excessive force ‘strictly prohibited’

NS The use of excessive force is strictly prohibited under CBP policy., according to agency guidance released in January.

Authorized CBP agents may use “purposefully justified” force only when it is necessary to perform their law enforcement duties.

The “rationality” of the force is determined by the circumstances surrounding the officer “with a rather 20/20 vision of the rear.”

And although physical force must be discontinued once the event is under control, according to the policy, agents do not have a duty to retreat “nor should they use reasonable force to deter a threat before an attack.” need to wait.”

According to Kerlikovske, it’s not unprecedented to have border patrol agents on horseback, but “it’s unprecedented where you’re getting them into a crowd.”

Retired Border Patrol sub-area chief Jeff Self told the Arizona Republic that Horse Patrol agents could be Trying to stop migrants from getting too close to the horses.

“The important piece of this is that if one gets close enough to control the horse’s head by grasping a halter or harness on the horse’s head, he now has control of the horse, and can cause serious injury or death to the agent.” Maybe or migrant,” said Self, who viewed footage from the Rio Grande encounter. “Everything I see on it is justified.”

Contributions: Daniele Gonzalez, Martha Pskovski, Mabinti Quarshi

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