Screenshots from a Facebook group for U.S. Border Patrol agents suggest a widespread culture of xenophobia and sexism among the agency’s personnel.
In a report published Monday, ProPublica published screenshots from the secret Facebook group “I’m 10-15,” which is Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody.” The group boasts approximately 9,500 members, and describes itself as a forum for “funny” and “serious” conversations about day-to-day life as a Border Patrol agent. Because the group is classified as “secret,” the group is not able to be searched for on Facebook. ProPublica reported that they obtained the screenshots from a member of the group who leaked them.
“We are family, first and foremost. The green line starts with us,” the group’s description read.
Some of the more offensive posts ProPublica combed through include memes of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) giving oral sex to both President Trump and detained migrants, as well as posts from agents making fun of dead migrants, including children.
In one post about a 16-year-old immigrant who died in U.S. custody, an alleged Border Patrol agent commented with a GIF of Sesame Street character Elmo shrugging his shoulders and saying “oh well.” Another purported agent commented, “If he dies, he dies.”
One screenshot commented on the recent viral photo of 26-year-old Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, who drowned while attempting to cross the Rio Grande into the United States. The agent, whose name was omitted in the screenshot, described the deceased father and daughter as “floaters” and suggested the photo was doctored.
“[H]ave y’all ever seen floaters this clean,” the agent wrote. “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.”
Agents also used derogatory language towards Latina members of Congress in various posts. In a post about Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) and Ocasio-Cortez visiting an immigrant detention facility in Clint, Texas, members of the group called the women “hoes,” “scum buckets,” and suggested that Border agents “throw a 10-15 burrito at one of these bitches.”
A staffer for Rep. Escobar described the posts as “vile and sexist.”
“Furthermore, the comments made by Border Patrol agents towards immigrants, especially those that have lost their lives, are disgusting and show a complete disregard for human life and dignity,” the staffer told ProPublica.
For her part, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that she would be changing her Monday itinerary to visit a border facility as a result of the ProPublica report on the Facebook group.
“This isn’t about ‘a few bad eggs.’ This is a violent culture,” she tweeted.
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
The posts from the group surfaced the same day as Reuters’ aerial photos of an immigrant detention camp in McAllen, Texas, which showed hundreds of immigrants in U.S. custody living in filth. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not, as of this writing, commented on the photos of the McAllen facility, or the posts from the “Im 10-15” group.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.