House Democrats on Wednesday demanded Biden administration officials meet with members of the oversight committee by Friday to face questions about the treatment of Haitian immigrants at the Texas-Mexico border after videos showed Border Patrol agents on horseback corralling and menacing migrants, sparking widespread outrage.
“We were alarmed to see footage of the inhumane treatment of Haitian and other migrants in Del Rio, Texas, by Border Patrol agents on horseback,” The oversight committee chairwoman, Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, sent a letter Wednesday, to Troy A. Miller (acting commissioner for U.S. Customs and Border Protection).
The letter noted that images and videos showed border agents “charging at women, men, and children; menacing them with bridle reins; and making derogatory comments towards the migrants. Such abusive conduct is unacceptable and raises troubling questions about culture, training, and discipline within C.B.P.”
The letter asks for Customs and Border Protection officials to brief the committee by the end of the week about the conduct of the agents, what directions they received from supervisors and whether any disciplinary steps have been taken. The committee is also seeking information on actions taken to protect migrants at Del Rio’s border, the use Title 42 of the health regulation to expel migrants, and unredacted copies from any internal investigations into these incidents.
Ms. Maloney was joined in writing the letter by Democratic Representatives Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the chairman of the civil rights subcommittee Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and members of the progressive group known as the “Squad” — Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
“Reports that thousands of migrants are being deported to Haiti despite turmoil in that country raise serious concerns about whether the federal government is failing to treat migrants — including those fleeing violence, political instability, and natural disasters — with respect and dignity and affording them a meaningful opportunity to seek asylum,” The lawmakers wrote.
Photographs and video footage of border agents’ interactions with Haitian migrants, which circulated widely online this week, offered a view into the chaos unfolding in Del Rio, Texas, where large groups of Haitians crossed the Rio Grande and illegally entered the United States.
“It is critical that thorough investigations are conducted regarding the conduct in Del Rio, Texas, and that appropriate disciplinary action is taken,” The House Democrats wrote. “In addition, we urge C.B.P. to examine broader issues of culture and training within the agency that may have contributed to this conduct.”
According to a source familiar with the plan, the Biden administration has flown over 1,000 people to Haiti since Sunday. The administration plans to fly seven flights per day starting Wednesday. Each plane can hold 135 migrants, an official who spoke under anonymity in order to discuss internal strategies.
Biden’s latest attempt to manage the increasing number of border crossings is to deport people. It contradicts its campaign pledge to restore asylum programs for those fleeing persecution and poverty.
Leaders of civil rights organizations, including the N.A.A.C.P., sent a letter to Mr. Biden on Tuesday condemning the treatment of the Haitians, and other allies of Mr. Biden denounced the actions, comparing the events at the border to those seen under President Donald J. Trump.
Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday called the treatment “horrible” and said she planned to discuss the issue with Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of the Homeland Security Department, which has started an investigation.