Photographer behind controversial photos of migrants claims officers did not whip anyone

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The photographer behind now famous images of border patrol officers on horseback appearing to hunt migrants with whips says things aren’t exactly what they appear to be when it comes to his photos.

The photographs, which were taken on Sunday, appear to show officers on horses with whips in hand. The photos have sparked outrage, as they appear to show border patrol agents whipping migrants from certain angles. But photographer Paul Ratje said he and his colleagues had never seen agents flog anyone.

“Some of the Haitian men started running, trying to get around the horses,” Ratje said.

Ratje is a photographer based in Las Cruces and has been in Del Rio since Friday. He said he took the photos from the Mexican side.

“I never saw them whip anyone,” Ratje said. “He was swinging it… but that can be misinterpreted when you look at the photo. “

The migrant camp, under a bridge spanning the Rio Grande, has become the latest flashpoint for U.S. authorities seeking to stem a flow of migrants fleeing gang violence, extreme poverty and natural disasters in their home country. ‘origin. The incident sparked widespread outrage and is currently under investigation. Officers were assigned administrative duties and the Department of Homeland Security said it had suspended the use of horses in Del Rio.

The photos have drawn immense criticism from many on social media, and the White House has said it will investigate. White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the footage “horrific.”

Vice President Kamala Harris was also asked about the photos and called them deeply disturbing. Harris also said there would be a full investigation into how officers treat migrants.

The migrant camp has shrunk considerably since it surpassed more than 14,000 people on Saturday, many of them deported and many more released in the United States with notices to report to immigration authorities .

Only 225 migrants remained in the camp where nearly 15,000 migrants, mostly Haitians, had gathered a few days ago in the hope of seeking asylum, said Friday the highest elected official of the county of Val Verde.

County Judge Lewis Owens told The Associated Press in a text message he was told all migrants would be returned by the end of the day on Friday Рa dramatic change last week when the number culminated as migrants dragged down by confusion over the Biden administration. policies and disinformation on social media converged at the border crossing between Del Rio, Texas, and Ciudad Acu̱a, Mexico.

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