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MSNBC, CNN, and more ignore Mayorkas email about debunked Haitian migrants ‘whipping’ story

Left-leaning outlets have ignored the latest development in the debunked story about Border Patrol agents supposedly whipping Haitian migrants, despite previously parroting the claim. 

According to a Sept 24, 2021 email obtained by the Heritage Foundation, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was told that the photographer who captured a clash between Border Patrol agents and Haitian migrants in Del Rio had said that the incident was being misconstrued.

But hours before, Mayorkas attended a White House press conference where he failed to challenge the false narrative, pushed by other members of the Biden administration, including the president himself. Mayorkas at the time said that Americans, particularly Black community, were “horrified” by what the images suggested. 

A review of Grabien transcripts by Fox News Digital found no mention of the story on CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, NBC News, or CBS News since it broke Wednesday. 


The debunked story about Border Patrol agents has been repeated as recently as April, when NPR journalist Maria Hinojosa discussed how important it was for President Biden to “correct the narrative” around immigration. The agents at the time had been cleared in the investigation but have been on desk duty since the incident.

“Joe Biden has had so many opportunities, horrific opportunities. Like when we saw Haitian black people being whipped by men on horses. That would have been his moment to stand in front of the horse and say this stops, never again. We’re going to reform Border Patrol entirely, top to bottom,” Hinojosa said.

In September 2021, when the story first hit the airwaves, a number of left-leaning outlets repeated the claim that Border Patrol agents had whipped Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas. 


Around the same time, Mayorkas sat down with MSNBC host Joy Reid, who compared the alleged whippings to the Fugitive Slave Act.

“This is beyond repulsive. Are these images from 2021 or 1851?” she said at the time. Mayorkas did not challenge the position of the host. 

Reid again claimed that Haitian migrants were whipped that month during an interview with Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. 

“Should we be looking at the budget for Homeland Security? Because I was not aware that whips which come from the slave era, slavery era, were part of the package that we issue to any sort of law enforcement or government sanction personnel. Were you aware that was being issued to people, that people had that kind of equipment on them that they could use on humans?” Reid asked Omar. 

Omar replied that she was not aware and that she was “quite appalled.” She added that cruelty has been “embedded” in U.S. immigration policy for years, and that the alleged whipping was “obviously systemic racism at play.”

A Sept. 19 report from the El Paso Times served as the launchpad for a reporter outcry and accusations of whipping. 

“The agent swung his whip menacingly, charging his horse toward the men in the river who were trying to return to an encampment under the international bridge in Del Rio after buying food and water in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. One migrant fell as he tried to dodge, others shielded their heads with their hands,” the report said in part.

The report was retweeted by a number of prominent media figures, including “The View” co-host Sunny Hostin, MSNBC host Chrus Hayes, Business Insider reporter Eliza Relman and NBC News Washington correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, among others.


“This is absolutely horrifying. Like something out of the 19th century,” The Atlantic staff writer Adam Serwer tweeted. “I don’t know about anyone else, but I wasn’t aware border patrol agents were authorized to use whips on human beings.”

“Wait… cracking whips?” Associated Press reporter Jim Vertuno asked.

“US Border Agents Are Removing Haitian Migrants Using Horses and Whips,” said the headline of a Vice News story.

Both Axios and The New York Times updated reports and tweets that claimed Border Agents were seen “whipping” migrants, but the vast majority did not. 

The left-wing fact-checking outlet Snopes acknowledged after the initial outcry “there’s no evidence border patrol agents had whips or struck anyone with reins during an incident in Del Rio, Texas,” but it added in its “Key Facts” section that “one border patrol agent did use his horse rein to menace migrants by spinning it in a lasso-like motion.”

The investigation is still ongoing more than a year later, but findings by the Office of Professional Responsibility in July found that no whips were in the agents’ possession and no migrant was struck by the reins – although it did find other alleged infractions.

Federal sources say the three horseback agents and supervisor are still facing discipline of between 3- to 14-day unpaid suspensions and are in the process of trying to respond to the accusations. Neither Biden nor Mayorkas have since publicly stated that there was no whipping involved.

Fox News’ Bill Melugin and Adam Shaw contributed to this report. 

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