Construction of private border wall continues despite order from judge to temporarily stop: report
ProPublica uncovers Facebook group for Border Patrol agents filled with derogatory posts targeting migrants, lawmakers
Nonprofit news organization ProPublica published a report Monday uncovering a Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents filled with derogatory posts targeting migrants and lawmakers.
Created in August 2016, the Facebook group is called "I'm 10-15," referring to the code for "aliens in custody," and boasts roughly 9,500 members from across the country.
The group is described as secret, and it is not immediately clear whether ProPublica was able to verify how many of the members are actually current or former agents.
At least some of the posters were verified to be agents by ProPublica.
In one post, group members reportedly joked about a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in May while in custody at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas.
Another post included a photo illustration of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who has been bombarded with sexist and racist comments since being elected last year, engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant.
Another post included an illustration of a smiling President 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."
Ocasio-Cortez shared the report Monday, saying it showed "a violent culture" in Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
"9,500 CBP officers sharing memes about dead migrants and discussing violence and sexual misconduct towards members of Congress. How on earth can CBP's culture be trusted to care for refugees humanely? PS I have no plans to change my itinerary & will visit the CBP station today," she tweeted.
"These comments and memes are extremely troubling," Daniel Martinez, a sociologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson who studies the border, told ProPublica "They're clearly xenophobic and sexist."
The postings, for Martinez, reflect what "seems to be a pervasive culture of cruelty aimed at immigrants within CBP. This isn't just a few rogue agents or 'bad apples.' "
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, reviewed the Facebook discussions and was incensed.
"It confirms some of the worst criticisms of Customs and Border Protection," he told ProPublica. "These are clearly agents who are desensitized to the point of being dangerous to migrants and their co-workers."
The CBP on Monday announced that it reached out to the agency's Inspector General after learning of the posts in the group.
"These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see - and expect- from our agents day in and day out," Border Patrol chief Carla Provost said in a statement.
"Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable."
The investigation comes after an analysis of thousands of police officers' Facebook accounts published by BuzzFeed News and Injustice Watch earlier this year which found hundreds of violent and racist posts.