WASHINGTON — Horses will no longer be used by Border Patrol officers in Del Rio, Texas, following the release of riveting photographs that showed agents on horseback charging at Haitian migrants seeking to cross into the U.S.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the decision was made by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, calling the images that sparked the change “horrible and horrific.”
Biden administration officials met with civil rights leaders Wednesday about the incident, and the administration is continuing to investigate, she said.
The change follows days of criticism over the Biden administration's handling of the more than 15,000 Haitian migrants who have arrived at the Texas border in recent weeks. The official response to what has quickly turned into a humanitarian crisis led the U.S. special envoy for Haiti, Daniel Foote, to resign over what he called the administration's "inhumane" treatment of Haitian migrants.
"With deep disappointment and apologies to those seeking crucial changes, I resign from my position as Special Envoy for Haiti, effective immediately," he said in his resignation letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, obtained by NBC News.
Psaki said Foote had "had ample opportunity to raise concerns about migration during his tenure, he never did so,” but that there had been "disagreements" within the administration over the policy response to the Haitian migrants.
A widely circulated picture by photographer Paul Ratje showed an agent on horseback grabbing a migrant as the man tried to cross into the U.S. from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, on Sunday. Other video showed agents chasing the migrants on horseback and waving what appeared to be leather reins or a lariat, whipping it toward the migrants.