Connect with us

Politics

EXCLUSIVE: Border Patrol chief fumed at Biden admin’s handling of whipping controversy, emails show

Source image: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/border-patrol-chiefs-fumed-biden-admins-handling-whipping-controversy-emails-show

EXCLUSIVE: The head of Border Patrol pushed back against the Biden administration’s handling of a false “whipping” controversy aimed at his agents in 2021, emails from the days after the incident seen by Fox News show — with the chief reprimanding officials for failing to highlight migrant assaults on agents, as well as the lives his agents were saving.

Emails obtained by the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project via FOIA, and provided to Fox News, shed new light on the Sept. 2021 Haitian migrant crisis in Del Rio, and a related incident in which Border Patrol agents on horseback encountered migrants coming across the river. Photographs from the incident were misinterpreted by commentators, reporters and some Democrats as showing the agents whipping migrants. In fact, the agents were using reins to control their horses, were not carrying whips and did not whip anyone. 

But the controversy went viral on social media and made national news, leading to a scrambled response from the Biden administration. The emails show how on the day after the incident, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials were immediately under pressure for a response. 

AS BIDEN VISITS BORDER, STILL NO APOLOGY OVER FALSE CLAIMS THAT BORDER PATROL AGENTS WHIPPED MIGRANTS

Raul Ortiz, deputy chief of U.S. Border Patrol, speaks during a new conference in Brownsville, Texas, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. 

Raul Ortiz, deputy chief of U.S. Border Patrol, speaks during a new conference in Brownsville, Texas, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. 
(Photographer: Veronica G. Cardenas/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“Hi all. We need to get the more [sic] details on this as soon as possible,” one Sept. 20 2021 email from a redacted official said. “Just got a call from White House [Office of Inter-Governmental Affairs]/Political — the footage is getting everywhere.”

“DHS wants to be able to update the talking points for media inquiries to say an investigation is underway. Please let me know if/when I can confirm that,” another says minutes later.

Emails show communications between CBP and DHS officials.

Emails show communications between CBP and DHS officials.
(FOIA/Heritage Oversight Project)

Eventually, a statement was put out in which DHS says that the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility was investigating the matter and in which the footage was described as “extremely troubling” with a promise that an investigation will “define the appropriate disciplinary actions to take.”

The email chain also includes redacted talking points for officials to use. But, in response to the back-and-forth, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz expressed his frustration at the failure to highlight the good work his agents were doing or the violence and abuse they faced at the hands of migrants.

“This horse business is awfully negative but there are great efforts occurring and we aren’t highlighting any of them,” he said in a furious email. “Everyday we are providing lifesaving efforts to migrants under the bridge.”

“Our agents are being assaulted and we aren’t saying a word,” Ortiz said.

The Chief then also noted incidents in which Haitian migrants on removal transportation had hijacked buses and attempted to escape — something he said had not been commented on by the agency – as well as the long hours they were putting in, often in intense heat and under difficult conditions.

“The bus contractors and pilots are dealing with Haitians escaping or trying to overrun drivers and we stay quiet. Agents and pro staff are working 14 hour days in difficult conditions, nothing said,” he said. “We have to change the narrative or these stories will be only story.”

Ortiz’s words do not appear to have been heeded. While Mayorkas had given an initial defense of the agents alongside Ortiz that day, noting the distinction between the use of reins and any use of whips, he later walked that back — saying it was before he saw the footage.

Emails show communications between CBP and DHS officials.

Emails show communications between CBP and DHS officials.
(FOIA/Heritage Oversight Project)

In the emails, Mayorkas is told in an email from an unnamed official that DHS “will need to clarify what reins looks like vs a horse whip, and clarify use of force.”

By the end of the week, Mayorkas was deferring to the OPR’s investigation, while also expressing his horror at the images.

“Our nation saw horrifying images that do not reflect who we are. We know that those images painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation’s ongoing battle against systemic racism,” Mayorkas said at a press conference.

President Biden meanwhile, came out swinging at the agents directly, angrily (and falsely) accusing them of assaulting migrants — and promising that there would be consequences.

“To see people treated like they did, horses barely running over, people being strapped — it’s outrageous,” Biden told reporters, making a whipping motion with his hand. “I promise you, those people will pay. There will be an investigation underway now, and there will be consequences. There will be consequences.”

In the emails obtained by Fox, an official flags Biden’s remarks to Ortiz, who responds: “The tremendous work that took place over the last 10 days is what I’m gonna choose to focus on.” 

Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller responds simply: “Agree.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection mounted officers attempt to contain migrants as they cross the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection mounted officers attempt to contain migrants as they cross the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021.
(PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images)

Months later, in March 2022, an official appeared to scold Ortiz’s comments he made in a local radio interview in which Ortiz said he hoped the investigation would be wrapped up “relatively quickly.”

“And we’re going to find out, you know, really, what the truth was behind that incident, and I’m confident that almost all of those [agents] will be exonerated. And what we’ll find is it was probably, you know, mischaracterized,” he said.

CBP FINDS ‘NO EVIDENCE’ BORDER PATROL AGENTS WHIPPED HAITIAN MIGRANTS BUT STILL SEEKS TO DISCIPLINE THEM

The email flags the remarks and then reminds the recipients of “our approved messaging on this” which emphasizes sharing the results of the investigation when it is complete “consistent with the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and individuals’ privacy.”

The subsequent investigation, which did not reveal its findings until the summer of 2022, found “no evidence” that agents struck migrants and found that they were not carrying whips, but it still faulted agents on more minor infractions. An agent was accused of using “denigrating and offensive” language against migrants regarding national origin and gender, and of having maneuvered a horse around a child in an “unsafe manner” – while agents were said to have used “unnecessary use of force” to drive the migrants back.

Emails show communications between CBP and DHS officials.

Emails show communications between CBP and DHS officials.
(FOIA/Heritage Oversight Project)

In a statement, former acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan and former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan said that the emails “paint a picture of the Biden administration’s continued incompetence and politicizing of border security.”

“They offer more proof that Secretary Mayorkas was made aware the ‘whipping’ narrative was false, days before he continued to insinuate otherwise from the White House podium,” they say. “They show the White House pressuring CBP for answers in what quickly became a politicized investigation.”

The former officials also claimed that DHS leadership “do not care” about how the administration’s policies impact the morale and well-being of the Border Patrol. 

“Mayorkas, in particular, as one of the chief architects and consistent defenders of this radical agenda, bears unique responsibility for the cratering of morale across the force. Even his own agents have lost confidence in his ‘leadership,’” they say.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Brandon Judd, the head of the National Border Patrol Council, accused the administration of vilifying law enforcement in order to appease its base.

“President Biden, Vice President Harris and Secretary Mayorkas knew they could use the court of public opinion to make their base supporters happy by prematurely convicting the overworked and overwhelmed Horse Patrol agents with their political rhetoric,” he said. 

“They knew the evidence would ultimately come to light to show the agents not only did nothing wrong but actually carried out their duties lawfully and in accordance to orders from an Executive Branch Department they control. They obviously didn’t care,” he said. They knew by the time all evidence came to light, the damage would be done and the political points they desperately wanted would be scored.

 

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/border-patrol-chiefs-fumed-biden-admins-handling-whipping-controversy-emails-show

Politics

West Virginia House passes bill expanding advocate’s authority

West Virginia’s House of Delegates unanimously passed a bill Wednesday to expand the authority of the state foster care advocate to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect.

Before the 100-member House voted in unison in favor, Deputy House Speaker Republican Matthew Rohrbach said the bill is “really going to help to make this system accountable, which I think is something that everybody in here wants.”

Foster Care Ombudsman Pamela Woodman-Kaehler’s office is located within the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Office of Inspector General. But she works independently as an advocate for foster children and parents, investigating complaints and collecting data about the state’s foster care system.

Her position was created in 2019 when the number of children under state foster care had swelled to about 6,900, up more than 60% from 2015, as the state continued to be ravaged by the national opioid crisis.

WEST VIRGINIA ADVANCES PUBLIC SCHOOL MANDATE ON ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’

She is a former child protective services worker in Harrison County and was the state coordinator for a federally-mandated review panel of the state’s Bureau of Children and Families.

The bill advanced to the Senate Wednesday specifies that Woodman-Kaehler’s office has the authority to investigate deaths, abuse and neglect involving children in the juvenile justice system.

The West Virginia House OKs a bill expanding the states foster care advocates authority. This bill will investigate abuse and neglect allegations.

The West Virginia House OKs a bill expanding the states foster care advocates authority. This bill will investigate abuse and neglect allegations.

The bill also would protect the identities of people providing confidential information during investigations, prohibiting the ombudsman and her staff from being required to disclose information about investigations or identify informants in judicial or administrative proceedings. It makes all memoranda, work product, notes and case files developed and maintained as part of an official investigation confidential, and not subject to discovery, subpoena or other means of legal compulsion.

Woodman-Kaehler told a House Health and Human Resources Committee meeting that the bill would help build trust between her and people reporting abuse and neglect, and encourage more people to come forward with information during sensitive investigations.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“This frees up the ombudsman to give them much more control,” Rohrbach said Wednesday.

Continue Reading

Politics

Indiana Gov. Holcomb’s public health expansion passes legislative panel

The Indiana governor’s proposal for a broad expansion of county-level public health programs won its first endorsement from state legislators on Wednesday.

The state Senate’s health committee voted 12-0 in support of a bill laying out the responsibilities that local health departments would have if county officials accept a major increase in state funding being sought by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box, several medical organizations and business groups urged lawmakers to support the plan, pointing to Indiana’s poor national rankings in areas such as smoking, obesity and life expectancy.

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION EXTENDS COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY YET AGAIN

The governor’s plan would direct $100 million in the next state budget year and $200 million in the following year toward boosting Indiana’s county public health department funding from its 45th-place national ranking. The state now directs about $7 million a year to county health departments, which are primarily funded by local taxes.

While county officials would have the option of accepting the money and expanding services, some opponents with grievances over government-ordered COVID-19 precautions told the committee they feared the plan would result in the state health department gaining more authority.

The bill approved by the committee would establish “core public health services” to be provide by county departments. Those would include access to required childhood vaccinations, emergency preparedness, restaurant and sewage system inspections, communicable disease prevention and smoking cessation programs.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box speaks alongside Gov. Eric Holcomb on the proposed expansion of the state's public health infrastructure

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box speaks alongside Gov. Eric Holcomb on the proposed expansion of the state’s public health infrastructure
(AP Photo /Tom Davies)

A commission appointed by Holcomb found that all but about six of Indiana’s 92 counties are spending less than half the national median per person on public health efforts.

“Where you live in Indiana currently determines whether your local health department can provide you the full range of public health services,” Box told the committee.

Leaders of the Republican-dominated Legislature have generally supported Holcomb’s proposal but have not committed to granting his full funding request. Lawmakers might not make that decision until a new state budget plan is completed in April.

Statewide organizations representing county officials told the committee Wednesday they believed local leaders would keep control by deciding whether to opt into the expansion program or maintain state funding levels.

Some county leaders, however, said they believed the expansion would eventually lead to state control of local health departments.

INDIANA AG FIGHTS COVID-19 MISINFORMATION, POINTS FINGER AT GOVERNMENT HEALTH AGENCIES

“I would prefer the state to provide grants on a topic-by-topic basis with local control on whether to accept the grant or not and how we handle that guidance, not mandates, from the state after the COVID destructive mandates,” said Brad Rogers, a Republican county commissioner from northern Indiana’s Elkhart County.

Senators cited concerns about long-term health problems across the state, while plan opponents who spoke focused on issues such as complaints over federal approval of COVID-19 vaccines and Holcomb’s executive orders early in the pandemic for business closures and a face mask mandate. One opponent argued the plan would lead to what he called more government “tyranny.”

Similar grievances were aired to Indiana lawmakers as they debated a proposal last year that failed to win passage aiming to severely limit the COVID-19 vaccine requirements that businesses could impose on employees.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“We have high infant mortality rates,” Republican Sen. Vaneta Becker of Evansville said as she voted in favor of the health plan Wednesday. “We have high obesity, lots of health issues in the state that need to be addressed.”

Continue Reading

Politics

President Biden’s physical delayed due to travel schedule, White House says

President Biden will receive a physical examination on Feb. 16 after weeks of delays that a spokesperson attributed to a “busy and evolving travel schedule in recent weeks.”

Biden, the oldest president in history, is expected to announce his bid for re-election in the coming weeks. He would be 86-years-old by the end of his second term.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre faced a series of questions on Biden’s physical in the new year and promised a shared report by the end of January.

BIDEN GRABS NBC REPORTER’S HAND AS HE STEPS UNDERNEATH HER UMBRELLA TO ANSWER HER QUESTION

President Biden will receive a physical on Feb. 16 after broken promises from the White House to have one conducted by the end of the past two months.

President Biden will receive a physical on Feb. 16 after broken promises from the White House to have one conducted by the end of the past two months.
(Screenshot/Twitter)

“He will have one before the — by the time the end of this month is out,” Jean-Pierre said in January. “We will share the information. We will have more to share about that before the month is over.”

This followed a promise from Biden himself in November to have a physical conducted by the end of December.

“I’ve gotten my — I will get — part of my physical is already done, and I’ll be getting it before the end of the year,” Biden said.

BIDEN’S FINAL WEEK OF CAMPAIGNING PLAGUED WITH GAFFES: ‘WHAT’S HIS NAME?’

The White House said President Biden's delayed physical is due to his busy travel schedule.

The White House said President Biden’s delayed physical is due to his busy travel schedule.
(Getty Images)

While the White House said the delay is due to his travel schedule in January, Biden spent time at his Delaware properties every weekend that month — 13 days in total. Other travel included Mexico for a summit, then trips to Kentucky, Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, California and New York to tout his policy agenda.

BIDEN DAILY GAFFE AVERAGE: THE PRESIDENT IS BATTING NEARLY A THOUSAND

President Biden last had a physical in November 2021.

President Biden last had a physical in November 2021.
(Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Speculations on Biden‘s health follow the delayed physical, consistent mental gaffes and an eight-hour stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in January as first lady Jill Biden had two cancerous skin lesions removed. The president’s last physical was reported in November 2021 and detailed his prescriptions for high blood pressure and blood thinner treatments.

Continue Reading

Trending