Investigation Of Secret Border Patrol Group Launched As New Degrading Facebook Posts Surface
A ProPublica story revealing demeaning posts directed at Latina lawmakers prompted widespread revulsion.
By A.C. Thompson & Dara Lind
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has opened an investigation into vulgar and misogynistic social media posts made by members of a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents.
On Monday, “U.S. Customs and Border Protection was made aware of disturbing social media activity hosted on a private Facebook group that may include a number of CBP employees,” said Matthew Klein, head of the agency’s internal affairs unit.
Klein said CBP “immediately informed” the investigators with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and initiated an inquiry. The office typically takes the first look at allegations of serious misconduct within the CBP.
“The problems with the 10-15 page have been going on for years,” said one current Border Patrol agent who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. “No one has done anything about it.”
The investigation comes after a ProPublica report exposing the secret three-year-old Facebook group, which is called “I’m 10-15” and has some 9,500 members. Group members posted offensive graphics, including a photo illustration of Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being sexually assaulted by President Donald Trump; discussed plans to disrupt a congressional visit to a Border Patrol facility; and joked about the deaths of migrants.
Recent posts shared with ProPublica include a meme using graphic language to mock CNN anchor Anderson Cooper’s sexual orientation and a comment that referred to soccer star Megan Rapinoe as a man. A separate thread made fun of a video of a migrant man trying to carry a child through a rushing river in a plastic bag.
One poster wrote, “At least it’s already in a trash bag.”
Another wrote, “Sous-vide? Lol,” referring to a method of cooking in a bag.
Klein said CBP’s code of conduct bars employees from making hateful and abusive statements on social media.
The group’s posts were also condemned by Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost.
“These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see — and expect — from our agents day in and day out,” she said in a statement. “Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”
The disclosure of the group’s existence and the nature of the posts raise a number of questions that remain unanswered. It’s apparent from some of the comments that agents were aware that the posts were inappropriate, and potentially actionable, for serving government employees. But it’s unclear whether CPB’s senior leadership was aware of the group or if any complaints had been made to the agency.
On Capitol Hill, the leader of a key oversight committee expressed outrage.
“This Facebook group is beyond sexist and racist — it is truly abhorrent and shameful, and there is no excuse for this depraved behavior,” said Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security, one of the committees with jurisdiction over CBP. “The agents found to be responsible for these vile comments should no longer have the privilege of representing the United States of America in uniform.”
The story generated widespread revulsion on social media, with more than a dozen members of Congress expressing horror and disgust at the posts. Some called for an investigation into the group.
One of the targets of the offensive posts, Ocasio-Cortez, responded several times on Twitter. …
- People Are Using Secret Facebook Groups To Spread Hate We Can’t See. We Need Your Help — We recently uncovered racist, sexist and hateful posts and comments in a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents. Such secret Facebook groups are only visible to their members. This means the general public cannot flag inflammatory posts and exchanges, such a photo illustration depicting President Donald Trump sexually assaulting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and posts making fun of migrants who died while crossing the Rio Grande. Since we published our story, more people have gotten in touch to tell us about other secret groups that may warrant closer scrutiny. We know there are members of groups who don’t agree with everything that is said in these forums. We also recognize that these groups can be a helpful support network for often-complicated issues that come up on the job. So we need your guidance to do more reporting. We’d like to hear about what’s happening in your communities, particularly from those of you who are concerned public servants. Here’s how you can help … Read the Rest
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2019. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
Reporter A.C. Thompson: On The Story Behind Border Agents Caught Posting Racist, Violent Sexist Messages About Migrants & AOC In Secret Facebook Group
Democracy Now! (7/3/19)
Customs and Border Protection has opened an investigation into the posting of racist and xenophobic messages by current and former Border Patrol agents on a private Facebook group. More than 9,500 people are part of the group, which was exposed by ProPublica on Monday. The Facebook group is filled with racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant and misogynistic content about migrants and asylum seekers, as well as public officials like Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is depicted in a photoshopped image being sexually assaulted by President Trump. In another thread, members of the group made fun of a video of a man trying to carry a child through a rapid river in a plastic bag. Someone commented, “At least it’s already in a trash bag.”
We speak with ProPublica reporter A.C. Thompson, who broke the story.
While US Border Patrol Agents Torture Kids, Humanitarian Scott Warren Faces Retrial For Providing Humanitarian Aid To Migrants In Arizona
Democracy Now! (7/3/19)
Federal prosecutors announced Tuesday they will retry humanitarian aid volunteer and immigration rights activist Scott Warren on two charges related to aiding migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border. This comes just a few weeks after a jury refused to convict Warren for providing water, food, clean clothes and beds to two undocumented migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona. Eight jurors found Warren not guilty; four said he was. Federal prosecutors will make their case against Warren again in an 8-day jury trial in November. They have dropped a conspiracy charge against him. If convicted on the two felony migrant harboring charges, Warren faces up to 10 years in prison.