Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized U.S. Customs and Border Protection Monday following a report that over 9,000 current and former Border Patrol agents are part of a secret Facebook group where some group members made fun of migrant deaths and created lewd edited images of the New York Democrat.
In response to the report, an official for the CBP said the online activity was “disturbing.” The agency said it immediately contacted the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general and “initiated an investigation.” A second CBP official said the posts “are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see—and expect—from our agents day in and day out” and added employees found to have violated the agency’s standards of conduct “will be held accountable.”
According to a report by ProPublica, roughly 9,500 current and former Border Patrol agents are part of a secret Facebook group called “I’m 10-15,” a reference to the Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody,”
Postings to the Facebook group also commented on a visit that Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, are making Monday to migrant detention centers. Members of the group discussed creating a GoFundMe fundraising account for whoever would throw burritos at the two Latina congresswomen, according to ProPublica.
“This isn’t about ‘a few bad eggs,'” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “This is a violent culture.”
“9,500 CBP officers sharing memes about dead migrants and discussing violence and sexual misconduct towards members of Congress,” she wrote in a follow-up tweet. “How on earth can CBP’s culture be trusted to care for refugees humanely?”
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.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
Following the ProPublica report, Matthew Klein, assistant commissioner of the Office of Professional Responsibility for CBP, said that an investigation has been initiated by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.
Klein noted that employees are expected to adhere to a standard of conduct on and off duty that states: “Employees will not make abusive, derisive, profane, or harassing statements or gestures or engage in any other conduct evidencing hatred or invidious prejudice to or about one person or group on account of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability.”
Today, CBP was made aware of disturbing social media activity hosted on a private Facebook group that may include a number of CBP employees. CBP immediately informed DHS Office of the Inspector General and initiated an investigation. Full statement: https://t.co/JdPNcZz36Spic.twitter.com/9f7BgKKrgU
— CBP (@CBP) July 1, 2019
The comments and posts are also barred from private social media sites, Klein said.
U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost in a statement said that employees will be held accountable.
“These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see — and expect — from our agents day in and day out,” she said in a statement. “Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”
[email protected]: 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.
— CBP (@CBP) July 1, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez visited a migrant detention facility near El Paso, Texas Monday. “Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets,” she tweeted shortly after the visit. Several migrants have died in the federal government’s custody, prompting a progressive backlash against the Trump administration. Reports of the deaths of migrant children and of unsanitary conditions that children have been held in while in government custody have been particularly angering to liberals and Democrats.
“I see why CBP officers were being so physically &sexually threatening towards me,” she said in the tweet.
More: Trump says ICE raids will happen after July Fourth holiday ‘unless we do something pretty miraculous’
More: Children are dying in border holding facilities. A top immigration official is pleading for help
Ocasio-Cortez has recently been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration’s migrant detention centers, and has referred to them as “concentration camps.”
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