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If the Department of Homeland Security fires the Border Patrol officers who were threatening to whip Haitian migrants while herding them like cattle, Texas wants to hire them, the state’s right-wing governor said Sunday.
After footage showed Border Patrol agents charging their horses at a migrant group including a child, and telling some migrants, “This is why your country’s shit,” the DHS opened an internal investigation into the officers' conduct. President Joe Biden subsequently called their actions “outrageous.”
“I promise you, those people will pay,” Biden told reporters Friday. “There is an investigation underway right now and there will be consequences.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has ordered the Texas National Guard and state troopers to the border to arrest migrants on trespassing charges, defended the Border Patrol cops and said they have a job waiting for them in Texas.
“If he takes any action against them whatsoever... I want them to know something,” Abbott told Fox News Sunday. “If they are at risk of losing their job by a president who is abandoning his duty to secure the border, you have a job in the state of Texas. I will hire you to help Texas secure our border.”
Facing challenges to the governors’ office from both the left and right next year, Abbott has staked his re-election for a fourth term on his hardline right-wing immigration policy.
But while Abbott has criticized Biden’s handling of the situation, the Biden administration has continued his predecessor’s policy of kicking migrants out of the country without giving them a chance to seek asylum, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended the policy on Sunday, and told NBC News that the pandemic justified the order. Mayorkas said it was a “public health policy, not an immigration policy.” Earlier this month, a group of public health experts wrote to Mayorkas and other federal officials asking them to rescind Title 42. The order “exacts a terrible toll on the lives and well-being of asylum seekers,” the letter stated. “It runs counter to the government’s own commitment to address COVID-19 globally.”
By Friday, the Del Rio, Texas, camp where the Border Patrol incident occurred had been cleared, Mayorkas said. So far, 4,000 Haitians have been deported back to Haiti, 8,000 voluntarily returned to Mexico, and 13,000 are awaiting immigration court proceedings, Mayorkas told CNN Sunday.
Many Haitians left their impoverished country months or years ago seeking to come to the U.S., and more recently Haitians have have fled their home country to escape political turmoil and environmental disaster. Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July, and in August, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake killed thousands of people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes.