The Biden Administration and Media Accused of Another False Claim on the Border – JONATHAN TURLEY

The Biden Administration went all in on the false claim as a cudgel to use against Texas for trying to secure the Southern border with its own personnel to stop the unprecedented surge of illegal migrants.

A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said that Border Patrol agents were made aware of a mother and two children struggling in the river by the Mexican government but were unable to enter the area from the U.S. side due to Texas National Guard troops:  “On Friday night, a woman and two children drowned near Eagle Pass, and Texas officials blocked U.S. Border Patrol from attempting to provide emergency assistance.”

The White House also released a statement that “In responding to a distress call from the Mexican government, Border Patrol agents were physically barred by Texas officials from entering the area.”

Once again, the media eagerly spread the false story without much apparent interest in checking if it was true. People were outraged when NBC and other outlets reported “a woman and two children drowned in the Rio Grande on Friday night in Eagle Pass, Texas, after U.S. border agents were prevented from responding, federal officials said Saturday.”

It was not the media but the Justice Department that would inadvertently disclose the true facts. The three migrants had drowned an hour before the government was notified.

According to a Justice Department filing with the Supreme Court, there were three drownings an hour before the Border Patrol was called after the fact that the drownings had occurred. The account supports Texas officials who said that they responded to the calls but could find nothing. The reason is that Mexican authorities had already rescued two individuals in distress and the bodies of the woman and the children were also recovered earlier.

The incident was reminiscent of what occurred earlier with the accused border agents.

The media went into a frenzy despite a videotape showing that the story was clearly false.

A photographer captured the scene, which showed agents using bridle reins to guide their skittish horses. The entire videotape clearly shows the agents using the reins on their mounts, not on the migrants. Not only did the photographer quickly deny seeing any officers whip migrants, the videotape clearly refuted that allegation. However, for many in politics and the media it did not matter because it played into a racial-justice claim of the “whipping (of) Haitian asylum seekers.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) condemned “the inappropriate use of what appear to be whips by Border Patrol officers on horseback to intimidate migrants.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) decried “images of inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants by Border Patrol — including the use of whips.” Vice President Kamala Harris emoted on “The View” about how the brutality “invoked images of some of the worst moments of our history, where that kind of behavior has been used against the Indigenous people of our country, it has been used against African Americans during times of slavery.” Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) described the incident as “worse than what we witnessed in slavery” and “white supremacist behavior.”

President Biden rushed to express his own revulsion and rage, too: “It was horrible what — to see, as you saw — to see people treated like they did: horses nearly running them over and people being strapped. It’s outrageous. I promise you, those people will pay.”

At the time, some of us objected that the president had, once again, declared the guilt of accused persons without evidence or investigation. The possible innocence of these officers simply did not matter to the president or to many in the press.

The pattern seems to have repeated itself: the false claim of the Administration, the massive media coverage spreading that account, and then the barely reported corrections showing it was untrue.

The Justice Department did present the true facts in arguing that such state personnel can interfere with rescue operations, even if this was not a case where they could have prevented the deaths. There was no need to claim that Texas actually caused the deaths to highlight that state barriers can interfere with federal responses and operations. In reality, the government may not need such arguments of exigency given the deference afforded to the federal government at the border by the Court.

Below is the DOJ’s filing:

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