CORRECTION: Subsequent reporting postulates that whips were not used by the Border Patrol agents and that the images depicted the reins of their horse mounts. The matter is still under ongoing investigation by the Customs and Border Patrol’s Office of Professional Responsibility. This article has been re-categorized from news analysis to opinion. “With whips” has been removed from the title of this story.
While Americans love to delude ourselves that we’ve made large strides in social progress, the grim reality is that we’ve simply grown better at sweeping inequality and injustice under the rug — especially when it comes to the issue of immigration.
A national fury rightly erupted when it was discovered that the Trump administration was separating children from their parents and incarcerating them in what many described as “concentration camps,” where they were abused and mistreated by the jackbooted thugs in the U.S. Border Patrol.
But as soon as Trump was out of office, the outcry quieted. The use of those same concentration camps and similarly “shockingly deplorable” conditions for children — this time with their parents — continued under the Biden administration with little concern from the media or the Democratic Party base, who all of a sudden are content to simply shrug and look the other way, the facilities they once called “concentration camps” suddenly reverting to “migrant detention facilities.”
But though the presidency might have changed hands, the deep-rooted culture of racism and brutality in the U.S. Border Patrol still remains alive and as appalling as ever, with a slew of new photographs from the El Paso area reminding us that perhaps not so much has changed in this country as we think it has.
Images of horse-back mounted Border Patrol agents allegedly whipping (though reports say whipping did not happen and investigations are still ongoing) and wrangling Black Haitian refugees with their horse’s reins and lassos immediately invokes images of slave-catching patrols chasing their human quarry (patrols that laid the foundation for modern American law enforcement). Editor’s note: see above correction regarding the events depicted in this paragraph.
“Let’s go! Get out now! Back to Mexico!” screamed the Border Patrol agents as they harassed asylum-seekers who had crossed into Mexico to buy food and were now returning over the U.S. border.
Border patrol is mounted on horseback rounding up Haitian refugees with whips.
This is unfathomable cruelty towards people fleeing disaster and political ruin. The administration must stop this. pic.twitter.com/BSjT91NSj0
— Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) September 20, 2021
The ACLU immediately issued a fiery statement condemning the Biden administration for allowing the Border Patrol to behave this way and for the mass deportations currently underway as more and more migrants, many of them fleeing US-sponsored violence in their home countries, rush for the border.
With this massive expulsion push, the Biden administration is writing its own chapter in the United States’ shameful history of racial discrimination towards Haitians and other Black immigrants.
— ACLU (@ACLU) September 20, 2021
Coming on the news that the Senate Parliamentarian has arbitrarily issued an unbinding ruling that the Democrats cannot use the reconciliation process to push through immigration reform, it very much looks like yet another American presidency will be quietly defined by mass deportations and immigrant abuse by the instruments of state violence as an uncaring population turns their back on the unwanted children of imperial ambition.
Please consider supporting the fund. Thank you!
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.