President Joe Biden on Friday harshly criticized the action of some Border Patrol agents, mounted on horseback, who confronted Haitian migrants crossing the border into Texas, calling their actions "horrible."
"It's outrageous, I promise you, those people will pay," Biden said.
Biden's blunt statements came as the situation and the agents' conduct are still under investigation and the agents have been placed on administrative duties. The use of horses has been suspended in the meantime.
Biden was responding to a question from ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott, who asked, "You said on the campaign trail that you were going to restore the moral standing of the U.S., that you are going to immediately end Trump's assault on the dignity of immigrant communities. 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, but he then quickly shifted to the controversial images of the agents on horseback. "I'm president but it was horrible to see what you saw to see people treat it like they did -- horses family nearly running over people being strapped. It's outrageous, I promise you, those people will pay. They will be -- there is investigation underway now, and there will be consequences. There will be consequences. It's an embarrassment, beyond an embarrassment. It's 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," he said.
The Border Patrol agents' union quickly disputed Biden's characterization.
“Even though the White House acknowledged there is an ongoing investigation, saying that the agents "will pay" shows that they aren't truly interested in the results. The photographer who took the photos said that nobody was whipped. Deciding they did something wrong without any form of due process -- that should not be who we are," Border Patrol Council Vice President Jon Anfinsen said.
Democrats, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, have demanded an end to the Haitians being expelled and the ACLU and other migrant advocates have had the administration is illegally removing them through the use of Title 42, claiming they are justified in doing so for public health reasons because of the pandemic.
The U.S. special envoy for Haiti, Daniel Foote, has resigned in protest over the administration policy, calling the treatment of the Haitian migrants "inhumane."