Migrants cross the Rio Grande river near Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, to camp Wednesday after they were not able to obtain supplies on the United States side. Photo by Allison Dinner/EPA-EFT
Sept. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Border Patrol on Thursday temporarily suspended the use of horses while dealing with migrants at the border in Del Rio, Texas, after the agency received criticism for the practice, the Department of Homeland Security announced.
An unnamed Department of Homeland Security official told reporters Thursday that Border Patrol use of horses has been temporarily suspended in the wake of the controversy, according to CNN and the El Paso Times in Texas.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the change in policy during a press briefing.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told "civil rights leaders earlier this morning that we would no longer be using in Del Rio," Psaki told reporters. "That is a policy change that has been made in response.
U.S. Border Patrol faced criticism this week after photographs and videos captured them on horseback appearing to charge at and herd Haitian migrants.
Mayorkas told Congress on Tuesday that he was "horrified" by the images and promised a full investigation.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Daniel Foote, the U.S. special envoy for Haiti resigned from his post over what he called the Biden administration's "inhumane" deportation of Haitian refugees from the southern border in Texas.
Foote, a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service, became special envoy to Haiti in July as the Caribbean nation was facing multiple critical issues, including the assassination of its president and an earthquake.
Foote has been critical of the administration's response to an increase of Haitian refugees who made their way through Mexico to the U.S. border at Del Rio in recent days.
As many as 15,000 migrants, many of them Haitian, have arrived at the border over the past week to seek asylum. The government has been flying many of those migrants to other processing centers or back to their home countries.
"I will not be associated with the United States' inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life," Foote wrote in his resignation letter.
Foote said the U.S. policy toward Haiti remains "deeply flawed," and noted that his recommendations have largely been dismissed.
"Haitians need immediate assistance to restore the government's ability to neutralize the gangs and restore order through the national police," he said in his resignation letter.
"They need a true agreement across society and political actors, with international support, to chart a timely path to the democratic selection to the next president and parliament."
Foote said Haiti is a "collapsed state" that's "unable to provide security or basic services and more refugees will fuel further desperation and crime."