Border Patrol Chief: Sexist Facebook posts ‘inappropriate’
CLINT, Texas — Sexually explicit posts about U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and comments mocking migrant deaths in a secret Facebook group for agents and employees are “completely inappropriate,” the head of the U.S. Border Patrol said Monday.
The sexist posts published by ProPublica came in response to Monday’s visit by members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, including Democrats Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Veronica Escobar of Texas, who toured a Border Patrol facility near El Paso, where attorneys said they had found migrant children living in fetid, filthy conditions.
This just broke: a secret Facebook group of 9,500 CBP officers discussed making a GoFundMe for officers to harm myself & Rep. Escobar during our visit to CBP facilities & mocked migrant deaths.
This isn’t about “a few bad eggs.” This is a violent culture. https://t.co/SkFwThHElx
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2019
California Rep. Judy Chu also said on Twitter that migrants were told to drink from the toilet if they wanted water. Pennsylvania Rep. Madeleine Dean in a tweet called conditions “far worse than we ever could have imagined.”
Some of the Facebook posts were graphic, doctored images of Ocasio-Cortez; including one that shows a smiling President Trump forcing her head toward his crotch. Other comments refer to Ocasio-Cortez and Escobar as “hoes,” and one member encouraged agents to throw a “burrito at these (expletives).”
A secret Facebook group allegedly run by Border agents is under fire for depicting @AOC in vulgar images and mocking migrants.
Ocasio-Cortez, who's one of several Dems touring detention centers today, said the officers were "sexually threatening towards me" after her visit pic.twitter.com/QC69xXdBNO
— POLITICO (@politico) July 1, 2019
The lawyers’ report about the poor conditions at the facility in Clint came as the Trump administration has been managing a massive influx of Central American migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border that has overwhelmed facilities. Ocasio-Cortez raised hackles last month when she tweeted: “This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrations, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying.”
Her tweet set off a firestorm of criticism from GOP lawmakers and others over her use of “concentration camps.” The Border Patrol’s union, while condemning the Facebook posts, also took a swipe at her.
“Whether one agrees with the politics of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Escobar, they both must be treated with dignity and respect,” according to a statement from the union. “Similarly, when Rep. Ocasio-Cortez refers to CBP facilities as concentration camps … she does nothing to improve the political discourse.”
Billed as a “fun, serious and just work related,” the Facebook group of about 9,500 members of current and former Border Patrol employees states: “We are family, first and foremost. This is where the Green line starts, with us,” according to ProPublica.
Border Patrol's response to our story on a secret, 9,500-member FB group for current and former @CBP agents containing violent, sexist and derogatory images about migrants and US congresspeople.
— ProPublica (@propublica) July 1, 2019
Another thread involved the image published last week by The Associated Press of a migrant father and his toddler, drowned on the banks of the Rio Grande. One commenter suggested the image was doctored because the bodies were too clean.
“We’ve all seen the dems and liberal parties do some pretty sick things,” the comment read.
Trump says "the Border Patrol is not happy with the Democrats in Congress."
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) July 1, 2019
The comments marked a sharp contrast to accounts of Border Patrol officers spending their own money on food for migrants in their care, or rescuing migrants from the Rio Grande, or from a bombing range in Arizona. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of Border Patrol, said an investigation into “disturbing social media activity” was under way.
“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. “Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”
Rep. Nanette Barragán after touring Clint border patrol facility: "What we learned today is there's still separation happening of family units." pic.twitter.com/VD9DAdxGtj
— The Hill (@thehill) July 1, 2019
House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi called the Facebook group “beyond sexist and racist — it is truly abhorrent and shameful, and there is no excuse for this depraved behavior. The agents found to be responsible for these vile comments should no longer have the privilege of representing the United States of America in uniform.”
Bloomberg News contributed