Harris publicly spoke about the condition in Del Rio, Texas, where an viewed 15,000 migrants, mostly Haitian nationals, have been camped out under the international bridge between Texas and Mexico, during a Tuesday event in Washington, D.C.
"What I saw depicted about those individuals on horseback treating human beings the way they were, was horrible," Harris said when asked about images and videos showing Customs and Border Protection agents rounding up migrants on horseback. "I fully support what is happening right now, which is a thorough investigation into exactly what is going on there, but human beings should never be treated that way, and I'm deeply troubled about it."
Harris said she intended to talk with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas about the probe and border situation Tuesday, but that conversation appears not to have happened by press time.
Mayorkas, White House press secretary Jen Psaki, and now Harris have all focused the administration's response to the Del Rio situation around border agents' alleged use of "whips" to round up migrants, yet law enforcement officials have discussed the first media reports describing the alleged action.
One senior law enforcement official told the Washington Examiner that what reporters originally described as "whipping" was actually a "twirl of the reins," a tactic usually used by law enforcement officers in crowd control situations to keep people from getting too close to horses and potentially trampling.
The National Fraternal Order of Police also slammed reporters for mistaking reins for whips.
"These are not whips. And no, Border Patrol agents are not 'whipping' people," FOP tweeted on Monday. "They are reins... Stay with us here, like a steering wheel is used to drive a car, the reins are used to 'drive' the horse."
The vice president was selected by President Joe Biden earlier this year to head the government's attempts to address the root causes of and eventually stem the flow of migrants into the U.S. at the southern border. She also suggested Tuesday that the U.S. should be doing more to address the economic and humanitarian concerns in Haiti.
"The whole point is that we have to understand Haiti," she added. "I mean, talk about a country that has just experienced so much tragedy that has been about natural disasters, the head of state assassinated, and we really have to do a lot more to recognize that as a member of the Western Hemisphere, we've got to support some very basic needs that the people of Haiti have to get back up and to do what folks naturally want to do, be them from Haiti or in the countries in Central America.