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Horse patrol investigation slow moving despite DHS promise to conclude in ‘days’

<i>Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>US Border Patrol agents on horseback try to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio
AFP via Getty Images
Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images
US Border Patrol agents on horseback try to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio

By Geneva Sands and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

An internal investigation into US Border Patrol agents on horseback who confronted migrants in Texas, remains ongoing, a month after Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas committed to concluding the probe within “days.”

Two agents at the center of the investigation have yet to be interviewed, according to National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd, who raised concerns about the pace of the investigation. But agents who were potential witnesses were interviewed within several days of the incident, Judd said.

The incident garnered national attention last month when photos surfaced of agents on horseback swinging long reins near migrants who had crossed the border near Del Rio, Texas — where around 15,000 migrants had amassed under the Del Rio international bridge. The images drew swift condemnation from senior Biden administration officials.

Mayorkas had said he was “horrified” by the situation, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki described the viral videos as “horrific.” Vice President Kamala Harris, who has been tasked with finding solutions to address root causes of migration, also raised “grave concerns” over the images.

Psaki announced in September that the horse patrol would no longer be used in Del Rio, but CBP confirmed Wednesday that horse patrol is operating throughout the Del Rio sector where needed. A DHS official previously said that the use of horse patrol in Del Rio had been temporarily suspended.

Mayorkas at the time committed to completing the investigation in “days, not weeks.” But more than a month later, the probe continues.

ABC first reported that agents at the center of the probe hadn’t yet been questioned.

“The facts will drive the actions that we take. We ourselves will pull no punches, and we need to conduct this investigation thoroughly, but very quickly. It will be completed in days, not weeks, and I wanted to assure this committee, and you Mr. Chairman and Mr. Ranking Member of that fact,” Mayorkas told a House panel in September.

The CBP Office of Professional Responsibility is conducting the investigation and the DHS Office of Inspector General was notified, Mayorkas said, adding that the agents have been assigned to administrative duties as the investigation plays out.

DHS said in a statement that “the investigation is ongoing. The Department is committed to a thorough, independent, and objective process. We are also committed to transparency and will release the results of the investigation once it is complete.”

Judd said it was “simple to see why” the investigation should be completed within days, not weeks, because of the limited scope of the incident and availability of video and images.

“You box the investigators into a corner,” Judd said, pointing to President Joe Biden’s early promise of consequences.

Asked about the incident last month, Biden said, “I promise you: those people will pay.”

Jon Anfinsen, National Border Patrol Council local president in Del Rio, Texas, told CNN that the investigation is taking a toll on agents in the region as they see their colleagues taken off patrol.

“They believe agency leadership doesn’t support them, and the longer this drags on, the worse it gets,” he said of the response from other agents to the investigation.

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