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White House: Possible use of whips on Haitian migrants is ‘horrific’

POLITICO logo POLITICO 9/20/2021 By Nick Niedzwiadek
a group of people on a beach: Migrants, mostly from Haiti, gather at a makeshift encampment under the international bridge on the border between Del Rio, Texas, and Acuña, Mexico. © Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images Migrants, mostly from Haiti, gather at a makeshift encampment under the international bridge on the border between Del Rio, Texas, and Acuña, Mexico.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki expressed dismay on Monday at images that appeared to show Border Patrol agents using whips on migrants seeking asylum along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Psaki said that administration officials were aware of the situation and that “it’s horrible to watch.” She also said people were “understandably” outraged at the possibility that law enforcement used whips or similar objects against those gathered near Del Rio, Texas, many of them from Haiti.

“I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it’s acceptable or appropriate,” Psaki said.

The press secretary also said 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.


Video: U.S. removes Haitian migrants at Mexico border (Reuters)

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She said if it was the case that whips were used as a coercive mechanism, “of course they should never be able to do it again.”

“It’s obviously horrific, the footage,” Psaki said. “I don’t have any more information on it, so let me venture to do that and we’ll see if there is more to convey.”

But Psaki would not say whether the Biden administration would wind back plans to begin deporting the Haitian migrants back to the country, as some immigrant groups and Democrats have urged, and deter others from trying to enter the U.S.

“We are constantly assessing circumstances on the ground” in Haiti, she said. “Obviously our objective here is not just to work to address the circumstances — which are very difficult — in Del Rio, but also to continue to work with the officials in Haiti to improve the conditions [and] to provide assistance. We’re doing all these pieces at the same time.”

Haiti has been reeling in recent months after the country’s president was assassinated in July and a devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake in August killed thousands.

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