Border Patrol Facebook Group Mocks Migrants and Congress Members

More than 9,000 former and current Border Patrol agents were part of a private Facebook group that joked about migrants’ deaths and targeted members of Congress, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The secret Facebook group came to light as members of Congress visited a detention facility in Texas on July 1. The Facebook group, called “I’m 10-15,” was created in August 2016 and included about 9,500 members from across the US, according to ProPublica who first reported about the postings. ProPublica said that it was able to link the posts to legitimate Facebook profiles, including those belonging to a supervisor based in El Paso, Texas and an agent in Eagle Pass, Texas.

In one post, group members expressed indifference and made jokes about the death of a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died while in custody in Weslaco, Texas in May. In another, a member posted a vulgar illustration of Ocasio-Cortez

Several posts referred to the planned visit by Latinx members of Congress to a Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas. Agents at the detention center have been accused of neglecting migrant children and housing them in inhumane conditions. When news broke that Ocasio-Cortez and Representative Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) would be visiting, one member wrote: “Let’s start a go fund me for one CTX agent brave enough to throw a 10-15 burrito at one of these b—. Who ever does it takes the pot of $$$.” Another, who appeared to be a patrol supervisor, added: “F— the h—.” While a third member wrote, “There should be no photo ops for these scum buckets.” Representative Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, was upset by the Facebook posts, according to ProPublica. “It confirms some of the worst criticisms of Customs and Border Protection,” Castro said. “These are clearly agents who are desensitized to the point of being dangerous to migrants and their co-workers.” Following ProPublica’s report, the Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Professional Responsibility and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched an independent investigation, Border Patrol chief Carla Provost told her agents in an email. Provost called the posts “highly inappropriate and offensive,” according to The New York Times. “The men and women of the US Border Patrol are under immense pressure every day as you manage the crisis on our border,” Provost wrote. “But let me be clear: There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of inappropriate behavior — on or off duty, publicly or privately.” Provost said that any agents identified as being responsible for the posts would be held accountable. Members of Congress later described the disturbing conditions migrants face, with Ocasio-Cortez reporting that migrant women were forced to drink water out of a toilet. “I see why CBP officers were being so physically and sexually threatening towards me,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Officers were keeping women in cells [with] no water [and] had told them to drink out of the toilets.” She added: “It’s not just the kids. It’s everyone. People drinking out of toilets, officers laughing in front of members Congress. I brought it up to their superiors. They said ‘officers are under stress & act out sometimes.’ No accountability.” Women told the lawmakers that they had been separated from their children, had not been allowed to shower for 15 days, and were without life-saving medication. Some of the women had been housed in the facility for more than 50 days, Castro told reporters. “Just left the first CBP facility. The conditions are far worse than we ever could have imagined. 15 women in their 50s-60s sleeping in a small concrete cell, no running water. Weeks without showers. All of them separated from their families,” Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) tweeted. “This is a human rights crisis.” In June, the House passed a $4.6 billion emergency funding bill for resources and support for the growing number of asylum-seekers on the US-Mexico border, NBC News reported. The funding came after reports that the Clint facility did not provide adequate food, soap or toothpaste to migrant minors.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.