Viral video footage Monday from the U.S.-Mexico border showed officers on horseback, trying to push Haitians camped in Del Rio, Texas, back across the border.
Customs and Border Protection's Office of Professional Responsibility on Tuesday morning pledged to investigate the matter.
“I was horrified to see the images, and we look forward to learning the facts that are produced from the investigation, and we will take actions that those facts compel. We do not tolerate any mistreatment or abuse of a migrant, period,” Mayorkas told lawmakers during an appearance before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee gathered to investigate threats to the U.S.
But while the event has put a repeated focus on DHS’s treatment of migrants, Mayorkas said the administration has no intentions to stop flights to a country that in a matter of months has seen an earthquake and a presidential assassination that have led to severe instability.
“We are increasing the frequency and number of the repatriation flights each day,” Mayorkas said.
“And we're hoping that what we are doing now serves as a deterrent because it backs up the words that we have spoken since the very outset: that irregular migration is not the way to enter the United States. It will not work,” he added.
The Biden administration continued efforts to Haiti last week, suspending more than 500 people back to the country.
The situation reached a tipping point in Del Rio after more than 10,000 camped out under a bridge crossing the U.S. and Mexico with plans to seek asylum.
But the Biden administration had already been dismissing Haitians along with many others under Title 42, a Trump-era policy clutched by the Biden administration that allows border agents to swiftly boot migrants without providing them the option to apply for refuge.
“Every time you come before this committee, you always say, ‘It's going to get better. Our plan is going to work at some future point.’ And you also usually say ‘It's really not as bad as it looks.’ And then every time you leave, it gets worse and worse,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said to Markorkas.
“This is a humanitarian crisis in Del Rio. You can spin it whichever way that you want. But you're quite right. We should not minimize the humanitarian conditions for which, frankly, you're responsible,” Hawley said.
The scenes also led to a debate about the role of Title 42 and the government's obligation to battle misinformation.