ICE chief under Obama: Border Patrol has 'been dealt an un-winnable hand'

A former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said the U.S. Border Patrol has been dealt an "un-winnable hand" amid reports that agents have been sharing racist and sexist images in a secret Facebook group. 

John Sandweg, who oversaw ICE temporarily under former President Obama, said Monday that the views expressed by some agents in the group isn’t necessarily representative of the agency as a whole.

"They've really been dealt an un-winnable hand here," Sandweg told Hill.TV. “There’s a small — very, very small — in my experience, very small percentage of them who embarrass the agency with those tacts.” 

“They’re not representative, though of the majority of the agency and I really feel bad for ICE and CBP [Customs and Border Protection] here because I think in the manner in which we’re currently trying to use them has damaged their reputation in a way that’s going to be very hard and take a very long time for them to overcome,” he added.

Border Patrol is a part of CBP, and CBP and ICE are both housed in the Department of Homeland Security.

Sandweg argued that ICE isn't being treated fairly amid the recent influx of migrant families and children at the southern border, saying they’re being forced into a role they were never meant to fill in the first place.

“They are designed and built to go after bad guys trying to sneak into the country,” he said. “That’s what they’re resourced for, that’s what they’re trained for, that’s what they’re tasked for, but because we haven’t adequately funded those aspects of the system I was just mentioning, we’re now forcing them to be the detainers of children, the detainers of large groups of families with equipment and facilities that were never designed to house children.”

Sandweg’s comments amid reports that CPB chief Carla Provost used to be a member of the controversial Facebook group filled with sexist and racist posts from agents.

The Intercept report Friday that Provost was part of the group as recently as three months after her August appointment as Border Patrol chief.

Provost, who is the first woman to hold the position, hasn't been directly linked to any of the offensive material.

But after news broke, she condemned the posts as “completely inappropriate.”

"Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable," Provost said.

Lawmakers have nevertheless condemned Provost’s former involvement in the group, and called on her along with the rest of CBP leadership to step down in light of the report.

"Provost along with the rest of border patrol leadership must resign immediately,” Wynden (D-Ore.) tweeted, calling the group a “disturbing look into the toxic culture of abuse, racism, and extremism among border patrol agents.”

—Tess Bonn