AOC called out a violent and sexist private U.S. Border Patrol Facebook group, and now it’s being investigated
Trigger warning: This post contains a description of sexual assault.
Over the past few weeks, the crisis at the border has gained renewed attention thanks to reports about the inhumane conditions at border detention centers. U.S. Border Patrol agents are also starting to face scrutiny. Recently, a secret Border Patrol Facebook group caught media attention for containing violent and derogatory comments—including some that targeted Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Now, the group is under investigation.
Yesterday, July 1st, nonprofit news organization ProPublica reported that members of a Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents had made racist and sexist jokes. The group, called “I’m 10-15” (after the Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody”) was formed in 2016 and contains about 9,500 members. ProPublica was able to view screenshots of several disturbing posts from the group. In one comment thread on a post about a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who had died in custody, members wrote things like “If he dies, he dies” and “Oh well.”
One member joked about throwing “a burrito at these bitches” in reference to Ocasio-Cortez and Texas Representative Veronica Escobar, who both visited a Border Patrol detention center in Clint, Texas, along with other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The group also contained several doctored images of Ocasio-Cortez performing oral sex, one of which depicted President Donald Trump forcing her head toward his crotch.
Ocasio-Cortez shared the ProPublica findings on Twitter, writing, “This isn’t about a few ‘bad eggs.’ This is a violent culture.”
"9,500 CBP officers sharing memes about dead migrants and discussing violence and sexual misconduct towards members of Congress," she continued in a separate tweet. "How on earth can CBP's culture be trusted to care for refugees humanely?"
A staffer for Escobar said in a statement to ProPublica that the posts about the congresswomen were “vile and sexist.”
"Furthermore, the comments made by Border Patrol agents towards immigrants, especially those that have lost their lives, are disgusting and show a complete disregard for human life and dignity," the statement continued.
According to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there were about 23,000 CBP officers in fiscal year 2017. However, it’s not clear how many of the group’s members are active CBP officers.
CNN reports that CBP’s internal affairs office and the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General are reviewing posts from the Facebook group.
"These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see—and expect—from our agents day in and day out," Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost told CNN. "Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable."
The reported posts in this Border Patrol Facebook group are unacceptable, and we need those responsible to be held accountable. In the meantime, if you want to take action to stop what’s happening at the border, contact your elected officials.