Defense Department Assisting With Expelling Haitian Migrants From Texas Border Town

Responding on Tuesday to images apparently showing U.S. Border Patrol agents rounding up migrants on horseback, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said he was "horrified."

More than 6,000 Haitians and other migrants were removed from an encampment in Del Rio, with Mayorkas saying he expects a "dramatic change" in the number of migrants in the next week as the removal process continues, the Associated Press reported.

An investigation is being led by the Office of Professional Responsibility, which said it will deploy personnel full time to monitor the situation in Del Rio. The border town has seen a wave of migrants fleeing their corruption- and earthquake-ravaged country through Mexico.

"I by no means diminish the, the humane issue that it presents, but I want to be clear that we do have a plan to address it," Mayorkas said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Border Patrol
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, on September 19, 2021. Felix Marquez/AP Photo

The latest increase in migration at the border has prompted Republicans to renew attacks on Democrats for what they say is a failure to address a crisis at the U.S. border. But on CNN, Mayorkas declined to call the situation a "crisis," saying only that it's a "heartbreaking situation" and a "tremendous challenge."

Mayorkas told CNN that "any mistreatment or abuse of a migrant is unacceptable" and added, "the pictures that I've observed troubled me profoundly." But he wouldn't explicitly say whether they reflected mistreatment or abuse, deferring instead to a promised investigation.

"That defies all of the values that we seek to instill in our people," Mayorkas said, adding that the department will address the situation "with full force" after the investigation is complete.

Mayorkas said 600 Homeland Security employees, including from the Coast Guard, have been brought to Del Rio. He said he has asked the Defense Department for help in what might be one of the swiftest, large-scale expulsions of migrants and refugees from the United States in decades.

Speaking from Del Rio on Monday, Mayorkas warned Haitians not to come to the U.S., noting that while a temporary extension in protections from deportation for Haitians was extended through July 29, those protections no longer apply to new migrants.

"If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned. Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family's life," he said.