(Washington) US border police will temporarily stop using officers on horseback around the small, Texas town of Del Rio, officials said Thursday, after posting photos showing what has been decried as humiliating treatment of Haitian immigrants trying to enter the United States.
White House spokeswoman Jane Jane said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mallorcas “has informed leaders of civil rights organizations that we will no longer use horses in Del Rio.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said the action was taken “on an interim basis.”
“We will use other methods as a priority to identify individuals who may be in medical distress,” he said in a statement.
In a photo taken by an AFP photographer Sunday, a border guard on horseback grabs a man by his shirt on the US side of the Rio Grande, the natural border between the two countries, near Del Rio.
On the other hand, he keeps a group at bay by twisting his reins, in a threatening position, to force them back towards Mexico.
These photos, which were scattered all over the world, caused an uproar in the United States. Some saw the immigrants there fusing with the cattle, and others remembered the mistreatment of blacks at the hands of mounted police, prison guards, or slave owners.
Mr. Mayorkas stressed Wednesday that these images do not reflect the identity of the United States or the work of the entire border police. An investigation was opened and the officers involved were assigned administrative tasks.
The US government is facing a new immigration crisis after the sudden and massive influx of thousands of people, including many Haitians, who had crowded for days under a bridge in a small border town, in squalid conditions.
More than 1,400 Haitians arrested at the border have already been repatriated by plane, a decision that has also been criticized as the tiny Caribbean nation is mired in a political, security and humanitarian crisis.
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