Mounted Border Patrol agents weren’t horsing around Sunday but they didn’t whip any of the Haitian illegal aliens in Texas. That is what photographer Paul Ratje told NBC’s El Paso, Texas affiliate KTSM.
Ratje spoke out to clear up confusion that resulted from a story initially published by the El Paso Times on September 19, 2021. Reporter Martha Pskowski’s article initially claimed Border Patrol agents whipped Haitian aliens trying to illegally enter the U.S. by crossing the Rio Grande river. The article has been clarified to say its reporting team witnessed at least one agent on horseback swing his reins like a whip.
“We have updated the story to clarify that fact since it was not an actual whip.”
According to the El Paso Times article, a mounted agent shouted at the people attempting the illegal border crossing, telling them to turn around and go back to Mexico. “The agent menacingly swung his reins like a whip, 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,” reads Pskowski’s article.
“After a few minutes the agents retreated, allowing the migrants to return to the camp, where over 10,000 are waiting for the chance to open an asylum claim in the United States,” the reporter added.
Ratje rebutted stories that used his photos to claim agents whipped attempted border jumpers. He said he traveled Friday to Del Rio, Texas but the photos that sparked controversy were taken from the Mexican side of the border. “Some of the Haitian men started running, trying to go around the horses,” Ratje told the NBC affiliate. “I’ve never seen them whip anyone,” Ratje said. “He was swinging it, but it can be misconstrued when you’re looking at the picture.”
A Border Patrol agent can be seen spinning his rein in one video, but no contact was made with the immigrant approaching the horse. A Border Patrol agent told Townhall reporter Julio Rosas that agents use their reins for a lot of reasons.
“Primarily it’s used to steer the horse, but agents will also spin them sometimes to deter people from getting too close to the horse…We are not aware of anyone being struck with the reins,” said the agent.
Split reins are used to direct a horse and loosely hang on a horse’s shoulders. The strips of leather tend to flow outward when horses make sudden movements.
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