White House bows to "whip" smears: We won't use horses anymore at the Haitian migrant camp in Del Rio

We all understand what this “whip” incident is really about, right?

Here’s the now-famous photo if you missed it a few days ago. A border patrol agent on horseback was chasing a Haitian migrant at the Del Rio camp in Texas; photographer Paul Ratje snapped a pic at a moment when the horse’s long reins were curled in mid-air near the man, making them look a bit like a whip. Insta-narrative: The Border Patrol, which is 50 percent Latino, had resorted to tactics used to punish slaves when apprehending black migrants.

It wasn’t true. “Some of the Haitian men started running, trying to go around the horses, and that’s when the whole thing happened. I never saw them whip anyone. The agent was swinging the [reins] that to some can be misconstrued when your looking at the pictures,” Ratje later said. In fact, the agent may have been trying to protect the man by using the reins as he did:

But the legend had been born. The Biden administration was now playing the role of cruel slave overseer, never mind the news this week that many Haitians are being released into the U.S. on their own recognizance. This must be the first slave system in history in which the “slaves” are immediately freed.

Today, to turn down the heat from the left, the White House vowed that Border Patrol agents would no longer use horses in Del Rio. They would have vowed that agents would also no longer use whips except that they weren’t using whips in the first place.

Activist/journalist Yamiche Alcindor nonetheless confronted Jen Psaki at today’s briefing demanding to know why the president himself won’t put aside COVID and the looming implosion of his domestic agenda and the prospect of a U.S. debt default and a few dozen other more pressing issues to come to the podium and address this pressing non-story about slavery:

Even Kamala Harris has been forced to feign distress and share her “grave concerns about the mistreatment of Haitian migrants” with DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

What’s this all about? Is it as simple as the left stumbling across a provocative photo and not being able to resist vomiting up a narrative about slavery in reference to it, a sort of political gag reflex?

I don’t think so. I think they’re working the refs. The worse the crisis at the border gets, the more political pressure Biden will feel to reverse course and start taking enforcement seriously before the midterms. The spectacle of thousands of migrants wading across the river and then being released into the United States is poison for vulnerable Democratic centrists and the left knows it. So if they’re going to keep the border open to kids and families, they need to apply pressure on Biden from the left. One way is this stupid “slavery” smear, accusing him and his agents of being insensitive to the asylum seekers by confronting them with the same supposedly outre law enforcement tactic that residents of America’s biggest city have encountered for decades. Another way is to ludicrously accuse Biden of being as much of an immigration hard-ass as Trump in the hope that that charge will make him think twice about enforcing the border more vigorously:

“The question that’s being asked now is: How are you actually different than Trump?” said Marisa Franco, the executive director of Mijente, a Latino civil rights organization, who consulted the Biden campaign as a representative for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. “You campaigned that immigration was one of the places where Trump was inhumane and failed. And last time I checked, Trump is not the president.”…

[T]o many immigration activists, the president’s reaction to the surge of border crossings — including a firm declaration that the border was closed and a refusal to allow many migrants to seek refuge in the United States — was a grim reminder of the Trump years and of Mr. Obama’s aggressive policies.

They point to the fact that Mr. Biden has fought civil rights groups in court to allow his administration to maintain one of the Mr. Trump’s strictest immigration policies: the use of a public health law known as Title 42 that allows the authorities to deny migrants their usual rights to claim asylum during the coronavirus pandemic.

Right, Biden has fought to keep Title 42 in effect for individuals. Kids and families are getting through. In fact, the Times notes that just 56 percent of the 1.24 million encounters the Border Patrol had with migrants between February and August resulted in people being removed under Title 42. Hundreds of thousands are being let in. Under Biden our borders are porous by design.

But they’re not entirely open, as the left wants. So they’re demagoging him with claptrap about whips and slavery in order to convince him to open them up a little more, or at least not to close them to appease Dem moderates. There are a lot of people waiting to get in, after all.