‘Extremely troubling’: Investigation launched into border agents on horseback seen chasing migrants

The Department of Homeland Security has also sent extra personnel to oversee the situation in Texas.

‘Extremely troubling’: Investigation launched into border agents on horseback seen chasing migrants

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility has launched a formal investigation into Border Patrol agents after footage emerged showing them on horseback, menacingly using what appeared to be whips on migrants seeking asylum along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Department of Homeland Security, which said a full probe would help “define the appropriate disciplinary actions to be taken,” has also dispatched additional personnel to oversee future border patrol operations over what’s become a sprawling, makeshift encampment of Haitians in Del Rio, Texas, seeking entry in the United States.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the matter and has alerted the DHS Office of Inspector General,” a DHS spokesperson said Monday.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas directed the Office of Professional Responsibility to be on site “full-time to ensure that the responsibilities of DHS personnel are executed consistent with applicable policies and training and the department’s values,” the spokesperson added.

The announcement of a formal investigation came after a steady flow of outrage over the images. A DHS official called the footage “extremely troubling” and that followed White House press secretary Jen Psaki deeming it “horrific.”

“I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it’s acceptable or appropriate,” Psaki said at a press briefing earlier in the day.

Psaki added that she “can’t imagine what the scenario is where that would be appropriate” and that the White House was working to gather additional information.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the reports “deeply troubling” and said Congress would “closely monitor developments.”

“All migrants seeking asylum must be treated in accordance with the law and with basic decency,” Pelosi said in a statement Monday night. “Any acts of aggression or violence cannot be tolerated and must be investigated. The situation facing Haitian migrants at the border is heartbreaking, and Congress will continue to closely monitor developments.”

Mayorkas, who had personally viewed footage of the Border Patrol agents, visited Del Rio on Monday, where he warned migrants against trying to enter the U.S. in the same way.

"We have reiterated that our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey," Mayorkas said.

A DHS spokesperson added: "We are committed to processing migrants in a safe, orderly, and humane way. We can and must do this in a way that ensures the safety and dignity of migrants.”

Nick Niedzwiadek and Myah Ward contributed to this report.

Source : Politico USA More   

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Restaurants, bars, gyms prepare for backlash when vaccine passports kick in Wednesday

Business owners are nervously awaiting the implementation of Ontario’s vaccine certification system, steeling themselves for logistical difficulties, extra costs and potential altercations with customers. The vaccine certification system will come into effect Sept. 22, although the province’s planned app won’t be in action for another month. Customers going to a gym, restaurant and a number of other non-essential venues will be required to show proof of vaccination — and proof they received their second dose at least 14 days earlier — on paper or on their phone, or provide an exemption document written by a doctor or registered nurse.The mandate will be harder to implement for some businesses than others, depending on the number of customers they see daily.Victoria Wickett, co-owner of Bomb Fitness, said it will be easier for client-based businesses like hers to deal with the vaccine certification mandate than restaurants, for example, which deal with a much higher volume of people.But navigating the vaccine certification system is “still a huge expense,” said Wickett.She thinks the government should have waited until the app was ready before implementing the vaccine mandate. “It’s a lot on our plate to ask for this,” she said. “It would have been nice if it was made a little bit easier.Ontario is building its own app in-house, an approach that has garnered some criticism. For the restaurant industry, the vaccine certification system is creating a lot of stress before it has even begun. The policy applies to all restaurants, bars and clubs, with the exception of outdoor patio areas, takeout and delivery.James Rilett, vice-president of Central Canada for Restaurants Canada, said there are a lot of unknowns for Ontario restaurateurs as Wednesday draws closer.“It’s just making people nervous,” he said, adding that restaurants are already getting backlash from people making reservations for later in the week, and are nervous about the online and in-person conflict they and their staff may have to deal with. Business owners are “pulling their hair out,” said Rilett.Not only will verifying the vaccine certificates be logistically difficult, restaurant owners are even more concerned about verifying exemptions. Rilett is convinced staff will encounter both fake vaccine certificates and fake exemption notes. Larry Isaacs, president of the Firkin Group of Pubs, doesn’t understand why the government didn’t wait until an app was available instead of making businesses manually check customers’ proof of vaccination or exemption notes.“We are not equipped to handle doctor’s notes,” said Isaacs. “This is ridiculous. … How are we supposed to determine if your doctor’s note is valid or (a) fraud?”Isaacs said his staff are already dealing with frustrated and angry customers. Julie Kwiecinski, director of provincial affairs for Ontario at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said business owners are concerned about the safety of their employees and themselves.“Many of them feel like the government is downloading the responsibility of ensuring people are vaccinated to businesses,” she said.Kwiecinski said simple government guidance, such as a “triage” sheet outlining how to deal with escalating customer situations, would go a long way to helping businesses and their employees deal with the unknowns to come. She said many business owners are concerned about incurring fines — both individuals and businesses can be fined for not complying with the rules — and she worries that some businesses could get in trouble by accident, such as if they fail to spot a fake vaccine exemption. Some business owners are hiring security staff to take care of the checking for them, said Rilett, so that restaurant staff aren’t on the front lines. Kwiecinski said businesses need clearer rules to avoid confusion, unnecessary fines and red tape as the vaccine certification system is put in place. Businesses with repeat clients, such as gyms or fitness studios, should be permitted to check a client’s vaccine certification just once, rather than each time they enter, Kwiecinski said. While the regulations don’t clearly address this issue, a Ministry of Health questions and answers document responding to this issue states that patrons must provide proof at point of entry, and that businesses can’t retain any information, including vaccination details provided by the patron. Rilett said the province’s app, scheduled to be implemented in another month, sounds like an easier and more secure way to go about vaccine certification. He thinks the government should have adopted another province’s app instead of making its own. Wickett said she’s not against mandating vaccines, but said the rollout in Ontario is “not ideal.”“I think it does add a level of reassurance for our members, so I don’t see it as a bad thing,” she said. “But ... the implementation of it is difficult.”Rosa Saba is a Toronto-based business reporter for the Star. Follow her on Twit

Restaurants, bars, gyms prepare for backlash when vaccine passports kick in Wednesday

Business owners are nervously awaiting the implementation of Ontario’s vaccine certification system, steeling themselves for logistical difficulties, extra costs and potential altercations with customers.

The vaccine certification system will come into effect Sept. 22, although the province’s planned app won’t be in action for another month. Customers going to a gym, restaurant and a number of other non-essential venues will be required to show proof of vaccination — and proof they received their second dose at least 14 days earlier — on paper or on their phone, or provide an exemption document written by a doctor or registered nurse.

The mandate will be harder to implement for some businesses than others, depending on the number of customers they see daily.

Victoria Wickett, co-owner of Bomb Fitness, said it will be easier for client-based businesses like hers to deal with the vaccine certification mandate than restaurants, for example, which deal with a much higher volume of people.

But navigating the vaccine certification system is “still a huge expense,” said Wickett.

She thinks the government should have waited until the app was ready before implementing the vaccine mandate.

“It’s a lot on our plate to ask for this,” she said. “It would have been nice if it was made a little bit easier.

Ontario is building its own app in-house, an approach that has garnered some criticism.

For the restaurant industry, the vaccine certification system is creating a lot of stress before it has even begun. The policy applies to all restaurants, bars and clubs, with the exception of outdoor patio areas, takeout and delivery.

James Rilett, vice-president of Central Canada for Restaurants Canada, said there are a lot of unknowns for Ontario restaurateurs as Wednesday draws closer.

“It’s just making people nervous,” he said, adding that restaurants are already getting backlash from people making reservations for later in the week, and are nervous about the online and in-person conflict they and their staff may have to deal with.

Business owners are “pulling their hair out,” said Rilett.

Not only will verifying the vaccine certificates be logistically difficult, restaurant owners are even more concerned about verifying exemptions. Rilett is convinced staff will encounter both fake vaccine certificates and fake exemption notes.

Larry Isaacs, president of the Firkin Group of Pubs, doesn’t understand why the government didn’t wait until an app was available instead of making businesses manually check customers’ proof of vaccination or exemption notes.

“We are not equipped to handle doctor’s notes,” said Isaacs. “This is ridiculous. … How are we supposed to determine if your doctor’s note is valid or (a) fraud?”

Isaacs said his staff are already dealing with frustrated and angry customers.

Julie Kwiecinski, director of provincial affairs for Ontario at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said business owners are concerned about the safety of their employees and themselves.

“Many of them feel like the government is downloading the responsibility of ensuring people are vaccinated to businesses,” she said.

Kwiecinski said simple government guidance, such as a “triage” sheet outlining how to deal with escalating customer situations, would go a long way to helping businesses and their employees deal with the unknowns to come.

She said many business owners are concerned about incurring fines — both individuals and businesses can be fined for not complying with the rules — and she worries that some businesses could get in trouble by accident, such as if they fail to spot a fake vaccine exemption.

Some business owners are hiring security staff to take care of the checking for them, said Rilett, so that restaurant staff aren’t on the front lines.

Kwiecinski said businesses need clearer rules to avoid confusion, unnecessary fines and red tape as the vaccine certification system is put in place.

Businesses with repeat clients, such as gyms or fitness studios, should be permitted to check a client’s vaccine certification just once, rather than each time they enter, Kwiecinski said.

While the regulations don’t clearly address this issue, a Ministry of Health questions and answers document responding to this issue states that patrons must provide proof at point of entry, and that businesses can’t retain any information, including vaccination details provided by the patron.

Rilett said the province’s app, scheduled to be implemented in another month, sounds like an easier and more secure way to go about vaccine certification. He thinks the government should have adopted another province’s app instead of making its own.

Wickett said she’s not against mandating vaccines, but said the rollout in Ontario is “not ideal.”

“I think it does add a level of reassurance for our members, so I don’t see it as a bad thing,” she said. “But ... the implementation of it is difficult.”

Rosa Saba is a Toronto-based business reporter for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @rosajsaba

Source : Toronto Star More   

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