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FIRST ON FOX: More than two dozen House Republicans are calling for a briefing on moves by the Department of Homeland Security to discipline multiple Border Patrol agents involved in the allegations that they whipped Haitian migrants last year while on horseback.
“Disciplining the agents would be an insult to the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol who work each day to protect our nation in spite of the policies being implemented by the Biden administration,” the letter by 26 House Republicans, led by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., says.
Fox News reported Tuesday that DHS is preparing to discipline “multiple” horseback Border Patrol agents involved in the incident at the U.S.-Mexico border back in September, where some Democrats and immigration activists incorrectly believed they saw agents whipping Haitian migrants.
A federal source told Fox News an announcement on the matter is expected within the coming days. The agents are expected to discipline the agents with “administrative violations” rather than any criminal conduct – which was ruled out by the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) last year. Fox is told that DHS will be putting forward their proposals for discipline to the agents, and the agents will then have a chance to respond and either accept the discipline, or fight it.
The controversy began when images circulated on Twitter of the agents in Del Rio trying to block migrants from entering the U.S., and in one case grabbing a migrants’ shirt. The controversy escalated as some media outlets and Democratic lawmakers misidentified the agents’ split reins, which they use and twirl to control and direct the horse — and falsely claimed the agents were using “whips” on the migrants.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas initially backed the agents, but later changed his message, saying that the images “troubled me profoundly” and adding that “one cannot weaponize a horse” against migrants. Mayorkas announced that horses would no longer be used in Del Rio, and the agents were shifted to desk duty pending an investigation into their conduct. He would go on to promise that the investigation would be “completed in days, if not weeks.”
Vice President Harris and President Biden also weighed in against the agents, with Biden increasing the pressure on the besieged agents by repeating the false claims of whipping, and also previewed what he hoped would be the outcome of the investigation.
“To see people treated like they did, horses barely running over, people being strapped – it’s outrageous,” Biden told reporters, making a whipping motion with his hand.
“I promise you, those people will pay,” he said of the agents. “There will be an investigation underway now and there will be consequences. There will be consequences.”
The lawmakers say the president “sent the message that they must be punished, regardless of the fact that they did nothing wrong” and faulted Mayorkas for allegedly failing to follow through on his pledge that the investigation would be done promptly.
“Your failure to follow through on that promise has upended the lives of the agents involved and harmed their reputations,” they write.
The lawmakers tie the alleged harshness with how the Border Patrol agents are being treated with the policies at the border: “Instead of disciplining Border Patrol agents who were working to secure our border you should be working to faithfully enforce the law and secure our border.”
“Punishing Border Patrol agents for trying to secure the border sends the message to all DHS employees that they will be punished for doing their jobs,” they write. “Instead of punishing the agents, you should be celebrating them.”
The lawmakers request a briefing by June 24.
The letter comes as multiple agents have spoken to Fox News to express their anger at the planned disciplinary action.
“What we’re seeing right now is the executive branch weaponizing the Office of Professional Responsibility to go after what President Biden perceives as political opponents,” National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd told Fox News Digital. “He doesn’t like the Border Patrol. He has never liked the mission of the Border Patrol. And now he is going after these agents because he panders to open border activists. This should never happen in this country.”
Fox News’ Bill Melugin contributed to this report.