Vice President Kamala Harris has condemned the US treatment of Haitian migrants at the southern border, saying images of American border patrol agents on horseback whipping the migrants evoked "times of slavery.”
In an interview broadcast on Saturday, Harris said the imagery, which circulated widely on social media, reminded her of tactics “used against the Indigenous people of our country" and that have "been used against African Americans during times of slavery.”
“Human beings should not be treated that way,” Harris added, referring to photos and videos of Border Patrol agents chasing and beating up migrants.
Earlier this week, Harris said that she was "deeply troubled" by the way the Biden administration, of which she is a key part, is treating the Haitian migrants.
"I fully support what is happening right now, which is a thorough investigation into what is going on there. But human beings should never be treated that way, and I’m deeply troubled about it," she said at the time.
Images appeared of riders on horseback rounding up Haitian migrants and using their reins in an aggressive manner. The brutal treatment of the migrants by the border agents drew a swell of criticism toward the Biden administration's handling of the issue.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said, “What we witnessed takes us back hundreds of years. What we witnessed was worse than what we witnessed in slavery."
The influential California Democrat added, “Cowboys with their reins in hand whipping Black people, Haitians, into the water where they’re scrambling and falling down and all they’re trying to do is escape the violence in their country.”
“I wanna know in the first place who’s paying these cowboys to do this work. They’ve got to be gotten rid of,” the chair of the House Committee on Financial Services added. “They’re trying to take us back to slavery days, and worse than that.”
The new surge of migrants in the southern border represents yet another test of Biden’s widely-criticized immigration policy.
Biden had repeatedly promised on the campaign trail to overturn the harshest aspects of Donald Trump’s anti-immigration agenda.
The scene of dense crowds, sleeping on dirt in scorching heat and with little access to food and clear water, drew condemnations from local officials.