Border Patrol Agents Have Secret Facebook Group Where They Mock Dead Migrants: Report
Members of a secret Facebook group for Border Patrol agents have been sharing racist and sexist memes mocking migrants, according to an investigation published by ProPublica.
Screenshots obtained by ProPublica show posts where members joked about throwing burritos at Latinx Congress members, mocked drowned migrants Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, and shared crude memes such as one where Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is Photoshopped to appear as if she were performing oral sex on President Trump. (Screenshots can be viewed here.)
The group is titled “I’m 10-15,” which references Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody,” and is reportedly comprised of 9,500 current and former agents, although it’s unclear how many of them are still in active service. Customs and Border Protection currently employs roughly 20,000 Border Patrol agents.
One of the most horrifying comments entails one member responding with a GIF of Elmo shrugging to a post about the death of a 16-year-old migrant in CPD custody, while some commented with jokes, according to ProPublica. Another disturbing post consisted of a member wondering if the Associated Press photo of Martínez Ramirez and his daughter face down in the banks of the Rio Grande was Democratic agitprop because the dead bodies were so “clean.”
“I HAVE NEVER SEEN FLOATERS LIKE THIS,” the member wrote. They added: “Could this be another edited photo. We’ve all seen the dems and liberal parties do some pretty sick things…”
Posts referring to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Veronica Escobar’s (D-TX) scheduled visit to a detention center outside of El Paso featured commenters writing things such as “throw a 10-15 burrito at one of these bitches” and calling them “hoes” and “scum buckets.” Some of the most sexually explicit and misogynist memes, however, were directed toward Ocasio-Cortez.
One includes a photo illustration of her engaged in oral sex at an immigrant detention center. Text accompanying the image reads, “Lucky Illegal Immigrant Glory Hole Special Starring AOC.”
Another is a photo illustration of a smiling President Donald Trump forcing Ocasio-Cortez’s head toward his crotch. The agent who posted the image commented: “That’s right bitches. The masses have spoken and today democracy won.”
Shortly after the story broke, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted the article along with the comment: “This isn’t about ‘a few bad eggs.’ This is a violent culture.”
This just broke: a secret Facebook group of 9,500 CBP officers discussed making a GoFundMe for officers to harm myself & Rep. Escobar during our visit to CBP facilities & mocked migrant deaths.
This isn’t about “a few bad eggs.” This is a violent culture. https://t.co/SkFwThHElx
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
Customs and Border Protection issued statements Monday afternoon in response to ProPublica’s story.
“These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see—and expect—from our agents day in and day out,” read a statement attributed to U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost. “Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”
Matthew Klein, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Professional Responsibility, wrote, “Today, 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. CBP immediately informed DHS Office of the Inspector General and initiated an investigation.” You can read his full statement here.
The posts mocking dead migrants are particularly disturbing given that at least six children have died in CBP custody, and the camps in which migrants fleeing Central America are detained are unsanitary, inhumane and dangerous.
A spokesperson for Facebook tells SPIN they are “looking into this.”
UPDATE: 10:23 a.m. EST: A Facebook spokesperson issued the following statement to SPIN: “We want everyone using Facebook to feel safe. Our Community Standards apply across Facebook, including in secret Groups. We’re cooperating with federal authorities in their investigation.”