President Biden signaled Tuesday that his administration will address the situation at the southern border, where an estimated 15,000 Haitian migrants fleeing disaster have traveled seeking asylum.
“We’ll get it under control,” Biden told reporters during his visit to the United Nations when he was asked about images from the border that have prompted outrage in recent days.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki also told reporters on Tuesday that Biden was briefed about the emergency at the Del Rio bridge, where migrants have set up encampments. She said the president has also been briefed on what she called “horrific” footage and photos of the treatment of Haitian migrants by border patrol agents, which has prompted an internal investigation by the Department of Homeland Security.
“[The president] believes that the footage, the footage and the photos, are horrific. They don’t represent who we are as a country, and he was pleased to see the announcement of the investigation. He certainly supports that,” she said. “And obviously, there’ll be a determination made on next steps once that concludes.”
Photos and videos emerged this week from journalists and others documenting events at the Del Rio bridge of U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback chasing Haitian migrants, including one holding what appeared to be a whip.
Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he been “horrified to see the images.” “We do not tolerate any mistreatment or abuse of a migrant, period,” he added. Mayorkas on Monday suggested the agent was holding long reins, not a whip. Reuters reported that some witnesses described agents as holding lariats.
This past week, DHS also released a statement detailing its strategy to address the border upheaval, including placing an additional 400 agents and officers in the Del Rio sector, relocating migrants from the region to other processing locations and working countries in the region to accept migrants, among other actions.
Last week, NBC News reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is planning to ramp up deportation flights to Haiti. ICE plans to fly eight deportation flights to Haiti and will then increase that number to 10 per week.