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US Border Patrol agents are “cowboys” to “get rid of” and their “flogging” of Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas was worse than slavery, says Congresswoman Maxine Waters , an influential Californian Democrat.

Speaking at a rally outside the United States Capitol on Wednesday, Waters sought asylum from more than 14,000 Haitians who illegally crossed the US-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas.

“What we witnessed takes us back hundreds of years … worse than what we witnessed during slavery”, Waters said. “Cowboys with their reins in hand whipping blacks, Haitians, in the water where they jostle and fall and all they try to do is escape the violence in their country . “

“I want to know first of all who is paying these cowboys to do this job. We must get rid of it “, added the chairman of the House financial services committee. “They are trying to take us back to the days of slavery, and worse than that.”

Earlier this week, a Democratic activist claimed that border patrol officers on horseback were using “whips” on migrants crossing the Rio Grande, sparking outrage in the media and on Capitol Hill.

Even though Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stressed that officers did not have whips but used horse reins, he said DHS “Investigate the facts” of the case. Border patrol officials said officers sometimes turned the reins in an effort to control crowds, but at no time were anyone affected.

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That didn’t stop Waters from claiming that the agents’ behavior was racist and worse than slavery, however. In a statement on Tuesday, the African-American lawmaker also claimed that the images show “Unreasonable attack by United States border agents against defenseless Haitian migrants”, who were only trying to seek refuge in the United States from the earthquake and political unrest in their Caribbean island nation.

According to reporters at the border, however, few of the migrants who entered Del Rio in the past week came directly from Haiti. One of them found dozens of identity cards from Chile and Brazil, thrown away by migrants on the Mexican side of the border, so that they could apply for asylum when passing through the United States.

The Biden administration officially told the migrants not to come and that the border was closed. However, only a fraction of the migrants have been deported to Haiti, and the vast majority are released with notices to appear for asylum hearings, then taken by bus or airlifted to the interior of the United States.

A group transported to a treatment facility in Brownsville took the border patrol bus back on Monday afternoon and attempted to flee, local officials said.

More than a million migrants have crossed the US-Mexico border illegally since Joe Biden was sworn in as president in January. The new administration quickly dismantled the immigration policies of its predecessor, but denied it had anything to do with the influx of borders and declined to speak of a crisis.

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