President Biden took questions on Friday after delivering one of his many speeches demanding that Americans submit to vaccinations. After calling on ABC's Rachel Scott, he answered a question on the current border conditions at the US-Mexico border. In so doing, he repeated claims that border control agents on horseback, which has been a practice in place since 1924, mistreated migrants by "strapping" them.
"You said on the campaign trail that you're going to restore the moral standing of the US that you are going to immediately end Trump's assault on the dignity of immigrant communities," Scott began. Given what we saw at the border this week, have you failed in that promise? And this is happening under your watch, do you take responsibility for the chaos that's unfolding?"
"Of course I take responsibility," Biden said. "I'm president, but it was horrible to see, as you saw, to see people treat it like they did. Horses nearly running 'em over and people being strapped, it's outrageous. I promise you, those people will pay. There will be an investigation underway now and there will be consequences. There will be consequences. It's an embarrassment. But beyond an embarrassment is dangerous. It's wrong. It sends the wrong message around the world sends the wrong message at home. It's simply not who we are."
Photos emerged of conditions at the US-Mexico border this week that were widely interpreted by mainstream media outlets and pundits to show border agents "whipping" people. There's no evidence that border patrol "strapped" or "whipped" any Haitian migrants. It later became clear that border agents, patrolling the border and trying to keep the peace, were not actually whipping people. Retractions have not been forthcoming.
Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas set attempted to set the record straight. "Well, you know, certainly, we got to make sure we treat all the immigrants with respect and dignity. But I will say this. Border Patrol has had those horse brigades for a while, they've had them for a while, number one, number two, they don't carry whips. And they do not carry lassos. I think the picture you're talking about, at least the one I've seen is the rein, the rein of the horses," Cuellar said.
Reporters who cover the border, such as Julio Rosas, were very clear that border patrol agents were not whipping or strapping migrants, as the president attested. Instead, Rosas said that the use of "spinning reins" is actually a measure to keep people away from horses to prevent them from being injured by those horses.
The Biden administration has henceforth barred border patrol agents from patrolling the border with horses.