U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is investigating reports of racist and sexist social media activity by current and former Border Patrol agents in response to a ProPublica report of a Facebook group known as “I’m 10-15.”
According to screenshots by ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news outlet, roughly 9,500 current and former Border Patrol agents are a part of the private group, where they have shared offensive content including an illustration of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez performing oral sex at an immigrant detention center.
The House Oversight Committee on Tuesday announced a July 12 hearing to address the Facebook group and conditions in detention centers along the southern border. Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan, and CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan were invited to testify but have not confirmed their attendance, according to a statement by the committee.
The committee also informed Facebook it would be conducting an investigation on the group and asked the company to preserve all posts and data related to the group.
Commentators in the group referred to a drowned migrant father and his toddler as “floaters.” They also joked about tossing burritos at Hispanic members of Congress, including Ocasio-Cortez and El Paso Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, who plan to visit the detention center in Clint, Texas, according to screenshots by ProPublica.
“These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see—and expect—from our agents day in and day out,” said U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost in a public statement. “Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”
Brian Hastings, Border Patrol Chief of Operations, said CBP takes the posts very seriously in a Monday interview with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin.
“These do not represent the thoughts of the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol,” Hastings said. “Each one of those individuals, if they are found to have done these, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.”
The investigation comes amid public scrutiny of the CBP following reports of unsanitary and inhumane conditions at a Border Patrol facility housing migrant children, and last week’s resignation of the head of CBP, John Sanders.
President Trump was asked about the Facebook group during a Monday bill signing.
“I don’t know what they’re saying about members of Congress. I know that the Border Patrol is not happy with the Democrats in Congress,” he said. “So Border Patrol, they’re patriots, they’re great people. They love our country. They know what’s coming in, and you know who knows it better than anybody? Hispanics.”
“What these officers have posted online is despicable, racist and absolutely unacceptable,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, chair of Families Belong Together, a coalition of immigrant advocacy organizations, in a statement. “They openly laughed on social media about a child who died on their agency’s watch. Congress needs to hold CBP accountable for a culture of racism that is clearly evident across their ranks and immediately close the camps to get children away from these sadists.”
This is not the first time government agents have been in hot water over social media comments and posts. In Philadelphia last week, 72 police officers were removed from their posts and placed on administrative duty after The Plain View Project, a research group, uncovered alleged racist posts by the officers. Similarly, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner barred 22 St. Louis police officers from bringing their cases to her office to prosecute last month over racists social media activity.