The photographer behind viral images of Border Patrol agents on horseback with Haitian migrants said the pictures that caused liberal outrage is being misconstrued and he never saw anyone get whipped.
The now-viral photographer, Paul Ratje said that his photos were framed by some Democrats and liberal media members as showing agents using “whips” to corral Haitians trying to cross the border. But critics pushed back and said they were clearly holding reins as they confronted them, and Ratje backed them up.
“I’ve never seen them whip anyone,” Ratje told KTSM, an NBC affiliate in El Paso, Texas. “He was swinging it, but it can be misconstrued when you’re looking at the picture.”
These liberal journalists claimed the photos showed Border Patrol agents were “whipping” migrants, but the photos actually show split reins, not whips. Split reins are used to direct the horse and hang loosely down the horse’s shoulders.
When a horse makes a sudden movement, those strips of leather will naturally flow outward, which is what was depicted in the images. In no picture was a Border Patrol agent holding a whip or even holding the reins in a whip-like fashion.
In one of the videos, a Border Patrol agent can be seen spinning therein, but no contact was made with the immigrant approaching the horse. A Border Patrol agent told Townhall reporter Julio Rosas that “Agents use their reins for a lot of reasons.”
“Primarily it’s used to steer the horse, but agents will also spin them sometimes to deter people from getting too close to the horse…We are not aware of anyone being struck with the reins,” he added.
Even though the story could have been debunked easily, members of the Biden administration accepted the false claims outright, without any additional questions. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas initially defended the Border Patrol agents, but quickly changed his tune as the media frenzy continued into Tuesday. He called for an investigation and said the images and videos “horrified” him.
“I was horrified by what I saw,” Mayorkas said on CNN’s “New Day” when asked about the images. The network had bought into the false claim that agents were whipping illegal immigrants. “I’m going to let the investigation run its course. But the pictures that I observed troubled me profoundly. That defies all of the values that we seek to instill in our people.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also said the photos were “horrific” and announced Thursday that Border Patrol agents would no longer ride horses in Del Rio, even though horses are an effective crowd control tactic. Numerous police departments in major cities use horseback patrol units to keep crowds under control.
Nevertheless, the agents who were photographed have been reassigned to desk duty while an investigation takes place.