CNN reports that Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan has ordered an investigation of what he calls “disturbing and inexcusable” social media posts allegedly made by Border Patrol personnel.
Via Twitter, McAleenan announced an immediate investigation into the posts and pointed out that the posts, first reported by ProPublica, do not represent Border Patrol or DHS. He said that employees who violate the Border Patrol mission will be held accountable.
ProPublica reported on Monday that the offensive posts originated in a secret Facebook group called “I’m 10-15”. The three year-old group is comprised of approximately 9,500 former and active Border Patrol agent members. The Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody” is “10-15”.
The posts include such things as mocking the deaths of migrants and lewd memes featuring female Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Veronica Escobar were both the subject of offensive comments in the group ahead of their visit to the troubled Clint Border Patrol facility outside El Paso, Texas. “F*ck the hoes” was one comment, while another member suggested a burrito be thrown at the Congresswomen, who were referred to as “bitches”.
One member, writing about the widely seen AP picture of the father and his two year-old daughter who drowned after not being allowed to claim asylum upon reaching the border, said, “Ok, I’m gonna go ahead and ask……Have y’all ever seen floaters this clean? I’m not trying to be an a$$ but I HAVE NEVER SEEN FLOATERS LIKE THIS, could this be another edited photo. We’ve all seen the dems and liberal parties do some pretty sick things.”
On Monday, US Customs and Border Patrol announced its own investigation into the matter, according to CBS News. Matthew Klein, assistant commissioner for the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility, said, “CBP immediately informed DHS Office of the Inspector General and initiated an investigation.”
A statement from Carla Provost, US Border Patrol Chief, said, “These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see—and expect—from our agents day in and day out. Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”
“There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of inappropriate behavior—on or off duty, publicly or privately. Posts such as these directly contradict the values that have defined the Border Patrol for 95 years. The misconduct of even one Agent reflects negatively on all of us and is unacceptable,” she said later.
The Border Patrol numbers 20,000 but it is unclear how many in the nearly 10,000 member Facebook group are active Border Patrol agents. ProPublica linked the posts, including some made by a El Paso, Texas Border Patrol supervisor and an Eagle Pass, Texas agent, to apparently real Facebook profiles that belong to Border Patrol employees.
The Border Patrol has come under fire for housing migrants in inhuman conditions after the Trump administration implemented their “zero tolerance policy” in May 2018. The agency has been in turmoil and the acting chief, John Sanders, resigned last week amid outrage over reports of children sleeping on concrete floors, being deprived of basic sanitation, and being kept in detention centers far longer than mandated by the court.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted after the report detailing lewd memes featuring her and mocking the death of migrants was published, saying there was a violent culture at the CBP.
Vicki Gaubeca, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, a group who works towards reforming the CBP, called the lewd posts evidence of the misogyny at the heart of the culture in the agency. She told ProPublica, “That’s why they’re the worst at recruiting women. They have the lowest percentage of female agents or officers of any federal law enforcement agency.”
Elijah Cummings, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, announced on Tuesday that McAleenan and Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan are invited next week to testify to the committee on the Facebook posts as well as the conditions at detention facilities, per CNN.
Democrats, such as Chuck Schumer and Joaquin Castro, head of the Congress Hispanic Caucus, are speaking out about the offensive posts in the Facebook group. Castro said, “It confirms some of the worst criticisms of Customs and Border Protection,” and added that the people who made the comments “don’t deserve to wear any uniform representing the United States of America.” Schumer, Senate Majority leader, is calling for the firing of the CBP leadership.