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Four fired, dozens suspended in CBP probe into racist, sexist Facebook groups

Four fired, dozens suspended in CBP probe into racist, sexist Facebook groups
© Aaron Schwartz

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has fired four employees and suspended dozens of others as part of an investigation into their participation in Facebook groups full of racist and sexist content.

A spokesperson confirmed to The Hill on Friday that the agency investigated 138 cases tied to the Facebook groups exposed more than a year ago by ProPublica.

"Of those, the agency found that 63 allegations were unsubstantiated, 4 employees were removed from service, 38 employees were suspended without pay, and the remaining were disciplined with reprimands or counseling," the spokesperson said in a statement.

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The Los Angeles Times first reported on the firings; six cases remained open as of Wednesday.

The CBP announced last year that 70 current or former employees were under internal investigation for posts in the groups that included derogatory comments toward immigrants and lawmakers.

Most were involved in a group called "I'm 10-15," a reference to the code for "aliens in custody." 

In that group, which had upwards of 9,000 members, current and former employees joked about dead migrants and an edited image of a smiling President Trump forcing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D-N.Y.) head toward his crotch.

In response to a post about a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died last May at a Border Patrol station, one member wrote, "If he dies, he dies," while another posted an Elmo GIF that read, "Oh well."

Among the groups members was former Border Patrol chief Carla Provost, although she was not linked to any offensive material.

CBP officials have declined to say whether Provost or other top officials were involved in the probe.

News of the investigation winding down comes as the CBP is under new scrutiny for actions in Portland, Ore., after its officers, many of whom were unidentified and driving unmarked vehicles, carried out a series of arrests in the city Thursday night.