Two days after ProPublica’s story on the secret Facebook group “I’m 10-15” broke, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan issued a statement confirming that the agency is investigating the group. The Facebook group, which is reportedly populated by 9,500 current and former Border Patrol agents, came under fire after users were exposed for allegedly sharing racist and misogynist memes and comments mocking dead migrants as well as Democratic members of Congress who visited the Texas detention camps to see the cruel and inhumane conditions that had been reported.
“Reporting this week highlighted disturbing & inexcusable social media activity that allegedly includes active Border Patrol personnel,” McAleenan wrote in a series of tweets posted Wednesday. “These statements are completely unacceptable, especially if made by those sworn to uphold the @DHSgov mission, our values & standards of conduct.”
“I have directed an immediate investigation, and as the @USBPChief has made clear, any employee found to have compromised the public’s trust in our law enforcement mission will be held accountable,” he continued in a second tweet. “They do not represent the men and women of the Border Patrol or @DHSgov.”
I have directed an immediate investigation, and as the @USBPChief has made clear, any employee found to have compromised the public’s trust in our law enforcement mission will be held accountable. They do not represent the men and women of the Border Patrol or @DHSgov.
— Acting Sec. Kevin McAleenan (@DHSMcAleenan) July 3, 2019
SPIN has reached out to the DHS to ask what exactly being “held accountable” entails. Facebook told us in a statement on July 2 that it is “cooperating with federal authorities in their investigation.”
On Tuesday, the Associated Press cited a memo sent to CBP staff by Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost reprimanding agents for the “completely inappropriate” and “offensive” posts. “Most importantly, the words of these few individuals directly undermine public trust in the Border Patrol and the dedication and compassion with which the rest of you undertake your duties each and every day,” Provost wrote.
It remains to be seen whether the incident will be disregarded as the work of a few bad apples.
Although the official position of the Customs and Border Protection is that this behavior is not representative of Border Patrol agents as a whole, one longtime agent went on CNN Tuesday evening to discuss how cruelty toward migrants is very much part of the department’s culture. Speaking under the condition of anonymity, the agent said that he witnessed his supervisor “making fun” of dead migrants.
“‘What difference does it make? It’s just another life,'” the agent said his boss told him. He also claimed that his supervisor joked about “running over illegals.” The agent also confirmed to CNN that the conditions in which the migrants are detained are unlivable, comparing them “to a zoo.”
Watch his interview below:
ProPublica’s report further embarrassed a Homeland Security department carrying out President Trump‘s hardline anti-immigration policies to the detriment of vulnerable and desperate people fleeing gang violence and poverty. The U.S. inspector general released photos of an overcrowded migrant detention center in Texas, where migrants are packed into unsanitary cells where many of them had only room to stand.