Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials were aware of a Facebook group for current and former agents that included offensive messages for up to three years, longer than previously believed, according to a new report.
The agency’s leadership knew about photos posted in the group as far back as 2016, one current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official told Politico. A former DHS official also told the outlet he was aware of the Facebook group during the past year.
Neither official said they were aware of any serious repercussions for any of the group’s members.
CBP and DHS did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill.
The news comes amid outrage over a recently uncovered Facebook page in which current and former Border Patrol agents posted derogatory comments targeting migrants and lawmakers. The page, founded in 2016, has about 9,500 members and is called “I’m 10-15,” referring to the code for “aliens in custody.”
Group members joked in one post about a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in May while in custody at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas. Another post depicted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda Photos of the Week: Renewable energy, gymnast testimonies and a Met Gala dress Ocasio-Cortez, Bush push to add expanded unemployment in .5T spending plan MORE (D-N.Y.), who has slammed CBP over the conditions in which detained migrants are housed, engaging in oral sex with a detained migrant.
CBP has opened an investigation into the Facebook group, and agency chief Carla Provost condemned the posts as “completely inappropriate.”
“Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable,” she said in a statement.
However, a former DHS official told Politico that CBP’s public affairs office was tasked with monitoring the Facebook group over the past year “as a source of intelligence” to see “what people are talking about.”
“We were not talking about ‘10-15’ as a liability or an asset or as an item of concern,” the former official said.
“Nobody in government can watch everything that’s being said about an entity in social media,” the official added. “What gets posted at 5 p.m. today will be buried under thousands of messages tomorrow.”
A CBP spokesperson told Politico that incidents that were uncovered were reported at the time to the Office of Professional Responsibility, which launched and concluded investigations, adding that the agency’s privacy policies prevented the disclosure of further information.