Jen Psaki revealed Thursday that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told civil rights leaders that his agency will not continue to allow agents to operate on horseback at the border in Del Rio.
‘I can also convey to you that the secretary also conveyed to civil rights leaders earlier this morning that we would no longer be using horses in Del Rio,’ Psaki said during her daily press briefing. ‘So that is something – a policy change that has been made in response.’
‘We feel those images are horrible and horrific,’ she reiterated from her comments in previous days. ‘There is an investigation the president certainly supports overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, which he has conveyed will happen quickly.’
The images in question emerged earlier this week with Border Patrol agents on horseback apparently using either the horses’ reins or other lariats as whips when chasing after the mostly Haitian migrants.
Agents insist they were not using whips against the migrants, 15,000 of whom set up a makeshift camp underneath and around the Del Rio International Bridge over the last few weeks.
They have reasoned that they were only using the reins on horses or to ward off immigrants – but not to whip them.
This didn’t stop the overwhelming outcry from progressive politicians and civil rights leaders.
Representative Maxine Waters said on Wednesday that the actions portrayed in the images were ‘worse than slavery’.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that DHS will no longer allow the use of horses in Del Rio after outcry over images showing agents on horseback appearing to use whips on a crowd of migrants
Civil Rights leaders and progressive politicians erupted after images emerged of Border Patrol agents lashing horse reins in the direction of migrants while ramping up deportation and deterrent efforts
Fears have been raised that 5,000 Haitian migrants could have been released into the U.S. after DHS released figures Thursday showing they are processing only 10,000 of an estimated 15,000.
The figures, which were finally released after days of requests from reporters, show that 1,401 were sent back to Haiti on 12 flights, 3,206 remained in custody, and 5,000 are camped out beneath the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said there were up to 15,000 immigrants but as of Tuesday, that number dropped to 10,000.
U.S. Special Envoy for Haiti Daniel Foote resigned on Wednesday, claiming: ‘I will not be associated with the United States [sic] inhumane, counterproductive, decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti’
The DHS has so far refused to clarify how many the remaining number have been released into the US and how many turned back at the border on their own.
Officials revealed to DailyMail.com two day ago that immigrants are simply being released ‘on a very, very large scale’ rather than deported.
It is also feared that the 3,206 in custody might not be deported and could also be released.
Those 3,206 Haitian migrants have either been moved to custody under Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or to other sectors of the border to either be expelled or placed into removal proceedings.
DHS could not immediately be reached for comment.
The new numbers come as the U.S. special envoy for Haiti Daniel Foote resigned on Wednesday because he didn’t want to be involved with the ‘inhumane’ deportation of Haitian migrants.
‘I will not be associated with the United States [sic] inhumane, counterproductive, decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life,’ Ambassador Foote wrote in his resignation letter.
In the letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Foote said another reason for his resignation is that his recommendations to help Haiti have been ‘ignored and dismissed’.
‘Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed,’ Foote continued in his letter, ‘and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own.’
A State Department spokesperson accused Foote of ‘mischaracterizing the circumstances of his resignation’ and said some of his ideas were deemed ‘harmful.’
‘[A]ll proposals, including those led by Special Envoy Foote, were fully considered in a rigorous and transparent policy process,’ a statement from the spokesperson reads. ‘Some of those proposals were determined to be harmful to our commitment to the promotion of democracy in Haiti and were rejected during the policy process.’
‘For him to to say that his proposals were ignored is simply false,’ they added.
The statement claims: ‘It is unfortunate that, instead of participating in a solutions-oriented policy process, Special Envoy Foote has both resigned and mischaracterized the circumstances of his resignation.’
Psaki reiterated the sentiments from the statement during her Thursday briefing, saying: ‘I’m not going to detail that further.’
Foote blamed Biden for making things worse in Haiti by backing the ‘unelected’ leader after the coup, claiming that ‘picking the winner’ will produce ‘catastrophic results’.
‘Last week, the U.S. and other embassies in Port-au-Prince issued another public statement of support for the unelected, de facto Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry as interim leader of Haiti, and have continued to tout his ‘political agreement’ over another broader, earlier accord shepherded by civil society,’ he wrote.
Foote added: ‘The hubris that makes us believe we should pick the winner – again – is impressive.’
‘This cycle of international political interventions in Haiti has consistently produced catastrophic results,’ he said. ‘The negative impact to Haiti will have calamitous consequences not only in Haiti, but in the U.S. and our neighbors in the hemisphere.’
This year alone, around 1.3 million migrants were apprehended by Customs and Border Protection.
Migrants, many from Haiti, are seen in an encampment along the Del Rio International Bridge near the Rio Grande, Thursday, September 23
At Psaki’s daily press briefing on Wednesday, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy confronted her on the numbers, which had not yet been released, after Mayorkas revealed during a Senate hearing on Tuesday that he did not know the figures.
‘So who else can we ask?’ Doocy asked.
When the press secretary attempted to direct him back to DHS, Doocy replied, ‘He says he doesn’t know.’
‘I am confident that he wanted to have the most up-to-date numbers and we will venture to get you those – I promise, this afternoon,’ Psaki vowed.
In a follow-up question Doocy asked if the issue is that the administration doesn’t know or if they don’t want to reveal figures because ‘a lot more people are being released into the U.S. than are being sent out.’
‘That is certainly not the issue,’ Psaki said.
It is still not clear when those figures will actually become public.
Mayorkas, meanwhile, was at the Capitol Wednesday for his second day of back-to-back congressional hearings – this time before a House committee.
Republican Florida Representative Carlos Gimenez asked Mayorkas today about how many of the migrants apprehended at the border this year were detained, returned or ‘dispersed.’
‘I would be pleased to provide you with specific data subsequent to this hearing, congressman,’ Mayorkas answered.
Gimenez accused Mayorkas of being unprepared for the hearing, to which the DHS chief snapped about his long work hours.
‘I work 18 hours a day, OK? So when I returned from yesterday’s hearing, I actually focused on mission. We will get that data, both to the senator who posed it yesterday and to you, congressman, today,’ he said.
It follows on from Tuesday’s hearing before the Senate when Mayorkas still could not provide migrant data.
‘I want some numbers here. Of the 1.3 million people that we’ve apprehended, how many people have been returned? How many people are being detained? How many people have been dispersed to all points around America?’ Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin asked the secretary during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing.
A girl with Barbie dolls stuffed in her boots waits with others to cross the Rio Grande river with their parents as they stand on the bank of the Rio Grande river in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, at dawn Thursday, Sept. 23
DHS Secretary Mayorkas was grilled by lawmakers in back-to-back congressional hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday
‘Senator, I would be pleased to provide you with that data — ‘ Mayorkas said before he was cut off.
‘I want them now,’ Johnson demanded. ‘Why don’t you have that information now?’
‘Senator, I do not have that data before me,’ Mayorkas replied.
‘Why not? Why don’t you have that basic information?’ the senator asked.
‘Senator, I want to be accurate,’ Mayorkas said.
The secretary revealed Tuesday that around 5,000 migrants have been removed from the encampment surrounding the Del Rio International Bridge as DHS launches a probe into agents on horseback using what appeared to be whips against the mostly Haitian migrants.
‘How many migrants have crossed into the United States in Del Rio over the past week?’ Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley asked Mayorkas.
‘So last week, I think the high point was 13,000-15,000 – it is now well below 10,000. We continue to move individuals from Del Rio to other processing centers to facilitate their repatriation,’ the DHS secretary responded.
‘We have increased the number of repatriation flights to Haiti and to other countries,’ Mayorkas added as it was revealed this week DHS is aiming to send out several deportation flights per day.
Migrants stand in line while awaiting transport out of a border makeshift camp along the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 22
A photo from Wednesday shows migrants being routed out of a makeshift border camp after being processed by US officials. The White House has pledged to deport most of the migrants back to Haiti under Title 42, but reports indicate that’s not the case for some being released
U.S. Border Patrol agents ride near a migrant camp in Del Rio, Texas on September 22
Mayorkas also refused to say whether he felt he and the Biden administration bear any responsibility for the influx of Haitian migrants over the last few weeks or the broader border crisis in general.
The DHS chief visited the border after increasing pressure to do so as images of mostly Haitian migrants in a tent city under the Del Rio bridge spurred accusations the Biden administration was enabling a humanitarian crisis.
The administration used the Trump-era Title 42 policy as a shield, claiming migrants would be sent back to the Caribbean country, which is still reeling from a deadly earthquake and political instability following the assassination of its president.
Under Title 42, migrants can be repatriated to their home nations without the possibility of requesting asylum due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, officials told DailyMail.com that thousands of Haitian migrants are being freed into the US on a ‘very, very large scale’ rather than being flown out on the deportation flights.
Two US officials with knowledge of the situation in Del Rio – where a peak of around 14,600 mostly Haitian migrants were camped out under a bridge at the weekend after crossing into the US from Mexico – said thousands have been released into the US with notices to appear at an immigration court in 60 days’ time under the so-called ‘catch and release’ scheme.
Others have been sent on buses and planes to other parts of the US to be processed by Border Patrol agents there, they said.
US special envoy for Haiti RESIGNS over ‘inhumane decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees’, warns crisis will ‘only grow’ and slams Biden for causing it
The U.S. special envoy for Haiti resigned on Wednesday because he didn’t want to be involved with the ‘inhumane’ deportation of Haitian migrants.
‘I will not be associated with the United States [sic] inhumane, counterproductive, decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life,’ Ambassador Daniel Foote wrote in his resignation letter, first shared by a PBS reporter on Twitter.
In the letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Foote said another reason for his resignation is that his recommendations to help Haiti have been ‘ignored and dismissed’ and he blamed the Biden administration for the ongoing crisis with Haitian migrants.
‘Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed,’ Foote continued in his letter, ‘and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own.’
The resignation comes as the U.S. migration crisis surged in the past few weeks when up to 15,000 mostly Haitian migrants set up an encampment near the Del Rio International Bridge in Texas.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki promised during her press briefing on Wednesday to share later in the day the exact number of illegal immigrants released into the U.S. this year – including those part of the massive Haitian migration.
When asked Wednesday evening when the figures would be made available after they were still not released, Psaki told DailyMail.com: ‘As soon as it is available form [sic] DHS.’
By Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at least 5,000 of these mostly Haitian migrants had been removed from Del Rio – whether they were moved to other centers, deported back to their homeland or released into the U.S. He could not give exact figures during a congressional hearing on how many were released into the country.
Deportation flights ensued on Sunday and continued through the week as planes full of Haitian migrants arrived back in the island capital city of Port-au-Prince.
People are fleeing Haiti and seeking refuge in America after a devastating earthquake and the assassination of their president, which has thrown the country into even more chaos.
Foote said that the deportation back to Haiti will only exacerbate the migration crisis at the southern border.
‘The collapsed state is unable to provide security or basic services, and more refugees will further desperation and crime,’ the now-former special envoy wrote in his resignation letter of Haiti. ‘Surging migration at our borders will only grow as we add to Haiti’s unacceptable misery.’
Foote only served in his post for two months after becoming the U.S. Special Envoy for Haiti in July following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. In the role, Foote served as a member of President Joe Biden’s delegation to Moïse’s funeral.
Before taking on that role he previously served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Haiti and as the U.S. Ambassador to Zambia under President Donald Trump.
In November 2019, during his tenure in Zambia, Foote said he was ‘horrified’ after a judge in the very conservative society where homosexual acts are illegal sentence two men to 15 years in prison after they were caught having sex in 2017.
He received pushback from Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu for trying to dictate policy and declared him a persona non grata – or an unacceptable or unwelcome person.
Foote has served with the Department of State since 1998 and has held a litany of roles since then – including in the U.S. consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico; the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in Colombia; deputy chief of mission in both Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and chargé d’affaires in the Dominican Republic.
While many migrants were rounded up and returned to Haiti from the U.S. in the last few days, many began crossing back into Mexico from the border town of Del Rio to avoid deportation to Haiti.
Images began emerging on Sunday of Border Patrol agents and officers on horseback rounding up migrants and preventing them from returning to the makeshift camp near the Del Rio bridge.
Immediately, the images were slammed as ‘inhumane’ and ‘horrific’ after some accused the agents of using either the reins or a lariat as a whip on the migrants. Images show a rope-like tool being thrown in the direction of some migrants who were running from the officers.
Agents insist they were not using any whips on migrants, while Mayorkas says those pictured with the ropes have been reassigned to administrative duties pending a full investigation into the incident.
EXCLUSIVE: Thousands of Haitian migrants who flocked to Del Rio were already working and living comfortably as refugees in CHILE and only set off for the US after Biden scrapped Trump-era deportation policy
The secret behind the Haitians who have turned up in Del Rio, Texas is that they didn’t migrate from Haiti at all but from Chile, where they had been granted asylum and were working and living comfortably as refugees.
The dozens of Chilean identity cards that litter the ground in Ciudad Acuna, just across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, all bear distinctly non-Hispanic names.
There is Prosper Pierre for instance, or Linode Lafleur or Eddyson Jean-Charles. None of the cards carries a name such as Gonzalez or Muñoz or Rojas.
A closer look shows three telling letters – HTI – on the cards where they ask for the bearer’s nationality.
These are the discarded ID cards of Haitians who have turned up in Del Rio by the thousands.
But they haven’t come from Port-au-Prince or Cap-Haïtien or any other city in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. These have mainly come from Santiago, the glittering capital of relatively prosperous Chile. Many had jobs there.
‘As one put it to me, ‘I love Chile, it’s 1,000 times better than Haiti,’ migration expert Todd Bensman of the Center for Immigration Studies told DailyMail.com.
‘But I want to come to the United States, that’s a million times better.’
The majority of the Haitian migrants have come from Chile – the wealthiest country in Latin America – and Brazil – the fifth wealthiest – where they have been living in modest comfort in Santiago and São Paulo for the past five or six years.
There are an estimated 150,000 Haitians in Chile and around 125,000 in Brazil – tiny fractions of the two million that live in the United States.
But as US immigration rules became tougher, people desperate to leave the impoverished island began to look to South America as a haven.
Bensman revealed that he has not met any Haitian in Del Rio or Acuna who has come directly from their Caribbean-island homeland.
‘None of these Haitians are from Haiti. None of them. These Haitians are all from Chile and Brazil,’ he said.
‘When Biden got in, word went out and they decided, we’re coming now. That was the decision point. I’ve interviewed 60 to 70 Haitians over the last year and it’s always the same story – Joe Biden opened the border so we decided we could upgrade our lifestyle.
‘I interviewed a guy an hour ago who said he was living in Brazil and making good money but he said he heard everyone was getting into America so he came.’
The immigrants traveled up from South America on a path that took them through Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala before landing in a camp across the Mexican border in Tapachula.
There they stayed at the behest of the Biden administration who pressured Mexican authorities not to let them come further north.
That was until Sunday September 12, when Mexico suddenly said they are free to go, said Bensman.
So they headed for the United States. Del Rio was the destination of choice because unlike most other places on the border the local branch of the Los Zetos cartel allows them to cross for free, DailyMail.com has learned.
In most Mexican frontier towns, coyotes charge fees of up to $10,000 per head to smuggle people across the border.
But Del Rio is different, and by last weekend, just a week after they were freed from Tapachula, thousands had camped out under the Del Rio International Bridge – overwhelming the city of just 35,000 people.
The sight of the squalid camp infuriated local politicians and saw the Biden administration scramble to get extra Border Patrol officers to the area while announcing that all the migrants camped in Del Rio would be deported back to Haiti.
A miles-long steel barrier of state-owned vehicles was put in place on Wednesday to physically keep the immigrants – who had dumped their identity cards at the border so US authorities would not know where their journey had started — from getting away from the border.
Speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com, Bensman – who has spent the past week with the Haitians in Ciudad Acuna – said the absence of smuggling fees made the Del Rio sector the cheapest on the border.
‘The cartel landscape is not the same in Del Rio as it is in Rio Grande Valley and other parts of Arizona and California. It’s different everywhere.
‘In this sector, there’s never really been cartel human smuggling on the same scale – I’m sure you can find a coyote here if you need one.
‘People just cross on their own and make their way into the US without paying anyone. You’ll pay further south in Texas but if you come through here, you pay nothing.
‘It’s cheaper. It’s a lot cheaper. It’s life-changing cheaper.’
Other nationalities have also cottoned on to the lack of cartel activity in the Del Rio sector with Cuban migrant Williams Rodriguez, 28, telling DailyMail.com: ‘We found out [about Del Rio] thanks to several people who were crossing into American lands and they told us what the route was like.
‘We knew it would be dangerous and we knew we are risking our lives but as the saying goes, he who does not take risks, does not win.’
His friend Luis, 56, added: ‘We were told this was the only place to cross.’
Bensman, a fellow of National Security Studies at the CIS, also said that many of the Haitians claim Mexico had turned a blind eye to their movements after months of penning them up on their southern border.
Most of the migrants traveled from Tapachula province where they had trapped by roadblocks manned by the Mexican National Guard and had been forced to comply with onerous immigration rules that include getting their papers stamped every two days.
The rules were introduced under the Trump administration – sparking riots among the Haitian and African migrants trapped there. Biden had asked Mexico to keep the measures in place.
‘Remember the Haitians had been causing problems down there because they were so frustrated by the requirements, Bensman explained.
‘My speculation is that the Mexicans felt like this was becoming too much of a problem for them so they simply let them flush north.’
Many of the Haitians say they were allowed to pass as a celebration of El Grito – the September 16 holiday marking the eve of Mexican independence
‘But I really think it was more of a holiday present for the people of Tapachula who were going to have parades and their celebrations and all that,’ said Bensman.
‘I think they just said we’re going to have El Grito without 50,000 angry Haitians here.’
The migrant camp under the Del Rio International Bridge is currently being dismantled by Border Patrol, who are busing people out and putting them on deportation flights back to Haiti.
On Tuesday, four flights left the US from Harlingen, Texas, bound for the capital, Port-au-Prince.
Two more – from Laredo and Harlingen – were scheduled for Wednesday, with up to six more due to take off each day until the camp is cleared.
On Sunday, 2,300 migrants crossed back into Mexico after hearing of the flights and made a break for other border towns such as Reynosa where more Haitian refugees are gathering.
Bensman says others plan to wait it out in Ciudad Acuna or are traveling back to Tapachula to dodge deportation.
He said: ‘They have left the camp in Del Rio because they fear they will be deported and it’s credible because all of them have text messages and photos sent from the tarmac in Port-au-Prince
There was even a takeover of an ICE bus by Haitians who realized knew they were being taken to an airport instead of being released into America, he added.
‘Some of the Haitians were nonplussed because their friends in Haiti said don’t believe the Americans, don’t get on the bus. If you get on the bus, they’ll take you to the airport.
‘So all of these people were running away from the buses, the bus loading that’s going on, because the Americans are not telling them where they’re going.
‘That’s why this camp is over. Remember, these people living Chile and Brazil. They told me they would far rather live in Mexico or Chile than be returned to Haiti.
‘It’s the ultimate horror for them. But they take their gamble and sometimes it doesn’t work out.
‘They had two dollars and they figured, well I want five dollars so they put their money on the table and they’ve ended up in debt.’