Customs and Border Protection mounted officers try to contain migrants...

Customs and Border Protection mounted officers try to contain migrants as they cross the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 19. Credit: AP/Felix Marquez

"I take responsibility," President Joe Biden said on national TV, and he should, he is responsible. But he then reversed himself, saying in effect that Border Patrol agents on horseback were the guilty parties in something "horrible," a non-injurious confrontation with antagonistic migrants. "They will pay," he wanted you to know.

The "horrible" incident was actually petty relative to the moment’s immigration chaos. Truly important was that something like 15,000 Haitian men, women and children crossed the border illegally, were caught and ended up in some empty land under an international bridge between Mexico and Texas. Here was something really awful: despair, confusion, torn tents, ravaged blankets, garbage, sickness and little food although lots of dirt to sleep on.

A couple of hundred took off from the camp in Del Rio for Mexico to get some food, just as hundreds are retreating there now. As they were illegally crossing the Rio Grande on the way back, they encountered Border Patrol agents on foot failing to stop them, and U.S. officials then called on agents on horseback who have made an enormous difference in keeping the border safe.

Because of professional duties, for the sake of others and despite risks, these trained, experienced officers often have to employ some level of pushback beyond the grasp of those thinking only in terms of evil oppressor and innocent victim. What happened was nevertheless a muddle as the insubordinate migrants walked past and in between the horses in their way.

No one was hurt although, in one case, a migrant grabbed a horse’s mouthpiece and the officer grabbed his shirt as the migrant was whirled around in a quick circle before tumbling to the ground. Some agents barked insults at these people deserving our sympathy, but brushes with danger mostly came from the lawbreakers refusing to heed what the agents were saying.

When Biden made his TV appearance, it was as if this was something as bad as the U.S. drone in Afghanistan killing innocent children. Less overreaching than his vice president, who compared the face-off to slavery, he had one specific charge, that the agents whipped Haitians. It did not happen, meaning that he and his vilifying aides were either in too much of a hurry, just incompetent or determined to serve political ends no matter what the truth was.

Biden was the real transgressor in spurring the Haitian surge, now seeking absolution that can conceivably be wrought through demagoguery. He said the agents "will be investigated, there will be consequences," and, in fact they have been taken off duty and face proceedings by the Department of Homeland Security. Seeing as how the president has already called them guilty, how can they be found innocent, one agent asked in a Fox News interview.

The bigger picture is that President Donald Trump reduced known border crossings to the lowest in 17 years while Biden has increased them to the highest in 20 years, 1.24 million from February to August. He did this by undoing just about everything that worked and appointing Vice President Kamala Harris to be in charge even as she plays hide-and-seek.

He tried his own ill-considered remedies, made Trump’s missteps look trivial and sent signals, inadvertently or not, to come and get it. One method was to release 44 percent of those 1.24 million into the country and another is to be promising great benefits for illegal immigrants already here before massive border crossings and absurd asylum proceedings are fixed.

Now, despite his pledge that the border was closed, Biden has released thousands of Haitian adults with small children into the country with no vetting or vaccines while deporting others of these extraordinary people back to hellish conditions. Others have retreated to Mexico.

As bad as that may sound, those who think everyone in dire circumstances should be let in should get it that at least 40 million have told pollsters they want to come. It’s not just what would happen to the country with still more of an inundation but what happens to the migrants in their care at the border and inhumane desert treks: blistered feet, rape, murder, fists in the face and gangsters taking money. The illegal entrants also mean less legal immigration, cheating those who abide by the rule of law.

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