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    Border Agents Cleared Of ‘Whipping’ Migrants Could Sue For Defamation

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    CBP, Border Patrol agents from the McAllen station horse patrol unit on patrol on horseback in South Texas. (Donna Burton, Wikimedia Commons)
    CBP, Border Patrol agents from the McAllen station horse patrol unit on patrol on horseback in South Texas. (Donna Burton, Wikimedia Commons)

    The Border Patrol agents accused by President Biden and other officials of “whipping” migrants were exonerated last week in a Customs and Border Patrol Protection investigation, opening the door for them to sue public figures and media for defamation and denial of due process, according to constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley.

    The agents, nevertheless, are still under suspension after the CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility concluded there was “no evidence” that “any agents struck — intentionally or otherwise — any migrant with their reins.”

    Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, told Just the News the videotape of the incident “undermines the good-faith basis for the claims, particularly after the first 24 hours.”

    In a column for The Hill last Friday, Turley said the federal investigation of the agents was “not about protecting migrants.”

    “It is about protecting a president,” he wrote.

    National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd told Fox News earlier this week that amid an overwhelming flood of illegal immigrants, “we’re taking several agents out of the field on suspension for doing absolutely nothing wrong.”

    The administration, Judd said, “is looking to scapegoat them because President Biden was wrong.”

    “He was wrong when he accused them of a criminal act, so they had to trump something up – which was an administrative violation – to put them on suspension. It’s wrong to see that that’s happening in this country. It should never happen in the greatest country in the world.”

    Judd argued the “investigation should’ve ended the moment they determined that nobody was struck by anything.” But “the president of the United States said that these individuals would pay, and the moment he said that, those investigators had no choice but to find some sort of fault – whether it was criminal or administrative.”

    After photos published last year were misinterpreted as showing agents whipping Haitian migrants, Biden declared the agents “would pay” and vowed “there will be consequences.”

    The president said the incident was “beyond an embarrassment, it’s dangerous; it’s wrong.”

    “It sends the wrong message around the world. It sends the wrong message at home. It’s simply not who we are.”

    However, the photographer, Paul Ratje, said he and his colleagues never saw Border Patrol agents whipping anyone.

    Initially, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz told reporters they saw nothing wrong, based on initial viewings of the images and video footage. Mayorkas explained that agents use long reins to control their horses.

    But the next day, after White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the images “horrific,” Mayorkas told CNN he “was horrified” by what he saw.

    “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,” he said.

    Later, at the White House press briefing, Mayorkas said the images “painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation’s ongoing battle against systemic racism.”

     

    Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy asked Mayorkas how his assurance that the investigation would be impartial comported with Biden’s contention earlier that the Haitians were “strapped.”

    The DHS chief said Biden was merely expressing the outrage of the American people. He said he will not “prejudge the facts,” arguing that he was a federal prosecutor.

    He claimed that he made the statement in Del Rio on Monday without having seen the images then saw them on the flight back, causing him to change his stance.

     

    Vice President Kamala Harris, in an interview on “The View,” said the Border Patrol officers actions “invoked images of some of the worst moments of our history, where that kind of behavior has been used against the Indigenous people of our country, it has been used against African Americans during times of slavery.”

    Psaki said at the daily White House briefing that Mayorkas “conveyed to civil rights leaders earlier this morning that we would no longer be using horses in Del Rio.”

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