New Emails Obtained by Oversight Project Show DHS Politicized Fake Del Rio ‘Whipping' Scandal

New Emails Obtained by Oversight Project Show DHS Politicized Fake Del Rio ‘Whipping' Scandal

Jan 19, 2023 4 min read

WASHINGTON—The Oversight Project today announced the release of new documents showing how the Biden administration politicized the fake “whipping” scandal created by the left in September 2021 and perpetuated since by the Biden administration.  

The Project obtained more than 130 new pages of emails between senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and other Biden administration officials after suing over an ignored Freedom of Information Act requests (FOIA) earlier this year. Read all the documents here.  

The emails provided another troubling look into the internal politics of the Biden administration in the aftermath of the events in Del Rio, and are just the latest in a batch of documents obtained by the Project showing how Biden administration officials have played politics with border security and the careers and reputations of Border Patrol agents.  

In one email, an unknown sender emails Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, acting CBP commissioner Troy Miller, and several other unknown recipients that they will “need to clarify what reins look like vs. a horse whip, and clarify use of force,” referencing a Reuters piece that used language saying BP agents were using “a lariat like a whip.” Taken in context with the unknown sender’s comment, this is more proof Mayorkas knew mounted Border Patrol agents were innocent of the ‘whipping’ charge. 

Another email showed the political pressure the White House was putting on DHS immediately after the events took place. On Monday, Sept. 24, another unknown sender emailed Miller, Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz, acting CBP deputy commissioner Bejamine Huffman, and CBP executive assistant commissioner Manuel Padilla, saying, “We need to get the more details on this as soon as possible. Just got a call from WH IGA/Political—the footage is getting everywhere.”   

And perhaps most striking, in multiple emails Ortiz criticized the constant negative coverage of the Border Patrol. In one email to the above recipients, as well as a member of CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility, Ortiz said, “This horse business is awfully negative, but there are great efforts occurring and we aren’t highlighting any of them. … Our agents are being assaulted and we aren’t saying a word. The bus contractors and pilots are dealing with Haitians escaping or trying to overrun drivers and we stay quiet. Agents and pro staff are working 14 hours days in difficult conditions, nothing said. We have to change the narrative or these stories will be the only story.”  

In response to an unknown Biden official flagging Joe Biden’s comments a few days later that those mounted agents “will pay”, Ortiz said, “The tremendous work that took place over the last 10 days is what I’m gonna choose to focus on.” 

Mark Morgan, former acting CBP commissioner, and Tom Homan, former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director, released the following statement upon publication of these emails: 

“The only conclusion to draw from these emails is that Joe Biden, Secretary Mayorkas, and senior DHS leadership are content to double down on their open-borders policies, and that they simply do not care about how these policies impact the morale and well-being of the Border Patrol. Mayorkas, in particular, as one of the chief architects and consistent defenders of this radical agenda, bears unique responsibility for the cratering of morale across the force. Even his own agents have lost confidence in his ‘leadership.’   


“These emails paint a picture of the Biden administration’s continued incompetence and politicizing of border security. They offer more proof that Secretary Mayorkas was made aware the ‘whipping’ narrative was false, days before he continued to insinuate otherwise from the White House podium. They show the White House pressuring CBP for answers in what quickly became a politicized investigation.  


“Although CBP leadership, including Chief Ortiz, are operating under challenging circumstances, there are defining moments as leaders which require extraordinary action and courage. The false ‘whipping’ allegations were just such a moment. But rather than publicly defend the agents by providing the truth after realizing their internal attempts to do so had failed, they acquiesced to the political officials and bureaucrats who ruthlessly pushed a false narrative.” 

Other recent documents obtained by the Project related to the incident showed DHS personnel planning meetings with radical immigration groups who were spreading the false narrative about the events in Del Rio, and most notably, one email showed that DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was informed the ‘whipping’ charge was false hours before he went to the White House podium and continued to advance that false narrative anyway. 

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