The coin declares “KEEP THE CARAVANS COMING” under an image of a parade of migrants crossing the border.
By Dara Lind
An unofficial commemorative coin has been circulating among Border Patrol agents at the U.S./Mexico border, mocking the task of caring for migrant children and other duties that have fallen to agents as families cross into the U.S.
On the front, the coin declares “KEEP THE CARAVANS COMING” under an image of a massive parade of people carrying a Honduran flag — a caricature of the “caravan” from last fall, which started in Honduras and attracted thousands of people as it moved north. (While the caravan included many women and children, the only visible figures on the coin appear to be adult men.)
The coin’s reverse side features the Border Patrol logo and three illustrations: a Border Patrol agent bottle-feeding an infant; an agent fingerprinting a teen boy wearing a backwards baseball cap; and a U.S. Border Patrol van. The text along the edge reads “FEEDING ** PROCESSING ** HOSPITAL ** TRANSPORT.”
The coin appears to poke fun at the fact that many border agents are no longer out patrolling and instead are now caring for and processing migrants — including families and children.
Government officials told ProPublica the coin was not approved or paid for by the government, unlike official “challenge coins” that go through an agency approval process. One Customs and Border Protection official, who was not authorized to give his name, characterized the coin as “something that somebody’s doing on their free time” — comparing it to woodworking. “A lot of the agents have little hobbies on the side, they build little wooden figures that they have at their homes,” the official said.
It’s not clear who created the coin or how widely it’s been circulated among border agents. But Border Patrol agents in California and Texas — on opposite ends of the U.S./Mexico border — had seen the coin circulated at their workplaces. One of the agents received a coin in April when a colleague brought several to pass around at the office; the other was shown an online order form for the coins by a colleague at work.
Promoted on Facebook group
Both said the coins were promoted via the secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol officials that, as ProPublica recently detailed, included racist and violent posts.
The coin is part of a tradition of unofficial “challenge coins” — which generally outnumber official ones — which are common in the military and law enforcement as a way for members to celebrate achievements and build camaraderie.
But outside observers found this particular coin anything but harmless.
Theresa Cardinal Brown, who worked at CBP under the Bush and Obama administrations, said that the coin was evidence (like the 10-15 Facebook group) of “reflexive dehumanization” by Border Patrol agents, and that the “tolerance for shenanigans” by supervisors and leadership had gone too far. “You have to say, ‘This is affecting the integrity and authority of us all.’”
The coin appears to have been designed, ordered and distributed months into the surge of Central American families at the border. Coins were being distributed to agents by late April, before the current wave of public attention and outrage over conditions for migrants in Border Patrol custody.
Customs and Border Protection officials said they did not know about the coin until contacted by ProPublica. …
Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost Was A Member Of Secret Racist Facebook Group
By Ryan Devereaux
The Intercept (7/12/19)
WHEN NEWS BROKE that thousands of current and former Border Patrol agents were members of a secret Facebook group filled with racist, vulgar, and sexist content, Carla Provost, chief of the agency, was quick to respond. “These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see — and expect — from our agents day in and day out,” Provost said in a statement. “Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”
As both ProPublica and The Intercept have reported, the lawmakers visit was a hot topic among “I’m 10-15” members, who discussed throwing burritos at the members of Congress or, in the case of one El Paso-based agent, staging a “bang in” to relieve stress from their presence.
[Editor’s Note: Let’s be clear, “Bang In” is reference to gang rape. — MLT]
For Provost, a veteran of the Border Patrol who was named head of the agency in August 2018, the group’s existence and content should have come as no surprise. Three months after her appointment to chief, Provost herself had posted in the group, then known as “I’m 10-15,” now archived as “America First X 2.” Provost’s comment was innocuous — a friendly clapback against a group member who questioned her rise to the top of the Border Patrol — but her participation in the group, which she has since left, raises serious questions.
Provost is one of several Border Patrol supervisors The Intercept has identified as current or former participants in the secret Facebook group, including chief patrol agents overseeing whole Border Patrol sectors; multiple patrol agents in charge of individual stations; and ranking officials in the Border Patrol’s union, who have enjoyed direct access to President Donald Trump. …