WASHINGTON—The Oversight Project announced Tuesday that it is filing a lawsuit against the Biden administration in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, demanding the release of all documents related to the Department of Homeland Security’s politicized investigation into mounted Border Patrol agents near Del Rio, Texas.
In September 2021, these agents were falsely accused of “whipping” migrants entering the country illegally, despite clear video evidence available at the time showing no such mistreatment occurred.
Shortly after, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas promised an investigation into the agents would be completed “within a matter of days—not weeks.” Subsequently, Biden administration officials, including Mayorkas, went on the record criticizing and condemning the agents, even amidst a supposedly “active” investigation.
As of June 21, more than nine months after the events in Del Rio, DHS has not released the investigation report, or any other correspondence related to the investigation.
The Oversight Project submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to DHS asking the department to release all correspondence and records related to the investigation, including any documentation between Biden administration officials demonstrating the politicization of the investigation and the attack on the agents.
The department failed to comply with the request in violation of FOIA laws and regulations. The lawsuit asks the court to compel DHS to follow the law and turn over all responsive documents.
Mike Howell, head of the Oversight Project, released a statement about the lawsuit:
“This is a simple lawsuit. DHS owes us documents and they are refusing to turn them over. It’s been obvious from the jump that the so-called ‘investigation’ was politicized by this administration. Their unwillingness to turn over documents only confirms those suspicions. There’s one major catch for the Mayorkas-led DHS, however—those documents aren’t his, but belong to the people. The Oversight Project is taking him to court to get Americans, and especially the brave men and women of the Border Patrol, the answers they deserve.
“It’s a sad day when American citizens have to sue their own government for basic information, while that same government is inviting millions of illegals to cross the border and then covertly flying them into our communities at taxpayer expense. We look forward to seeing them in court.”
Mark Morgan, former acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, and Heritage visiting fellow, also released a statement:
“Before the investigation even began, the facts were hijacked by a false narrative and the agents vilified. Although the lie about these agents was debunked almost immediately, it didn’t stop the media and politicians from continuing to recklessly speculate and comment on the incident, including President Biden decrying ‘they will pay.’ The agents were convicted in the court of public opinion before the ink was dry on a single interview—based on a lie.
“What we want to determine is how politicized the response and investigation were behind the scenes, as well as any influence on the investigation resulting from the very public and high-profile comments made by Biden administration officials. These Border Patrol agents have been slandered, their careers have been jeopardized, and their reputations have been tarnished—simply because they did their jobs. The department and this secretary owe them, and the American people, the truth about what went on behind the scenes.”
These are just some of the defamatory statements made by administration officials against the Border Patrol agents:
- President Joe Biden, Sept. 24: “[T]hose people will pay. ... There will be consequences.”
- Vice President Kamala Harris, Sept. 24: “It was horrible and deeply troubling. … There needs to be consequences and accountability. … It also invoked images of some of the worst moments of our history.”
- DHS Secretary Mayorkas, Sept. 21: “One cannot weaponize a horse to aggressively attack a child.”
- Mayorkas, Sept. 23: “We were indeed horrified by the images. That is not who we are.”
- Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Sept. 22: “We watched ... the horrific video of the CBP officers on horses using brutal and inappropriate measures against innocent people.”
Read the lawsuit here.
The Heritage Foundation announced in January the launch of the Oversight Project, led by Howell, an attorney with experience on both congressional oversight committees and in the executive branch. The new initiative is aimed at increasing aggressive oversight of the Biden administration and the political and corporate enablers of the leftist regime.