U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Monday that 70 current and former employees are now under investigation for their participation in secret Facebook groups used to mock lawmakers and migrants. After a group of nearly 10,000 members was uncovered by ProPublica, border patrol officials said they were investigating the use of inappropriate images, memes, and comments across multiple Facebook groups by employees, 62 of whom are currently working as border patrol agents, including Border Patrol chief Carla Provost. The majority of the posts, which featured racist and sexist content, were in the private Facebook group called “I’m 10-15,” a term that is border patrol code for undocumented immigrants in custody. In order to join the group, prospective members had to give the group administrator their Border Patrol Academy graduating class number and have a current member vouch for them.
“Members of a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents joked about the deaths of migrants, discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility in Texas on Monday and posted a vulgar illustration depicting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant, according to screenshots of their postings,” ProPublica said about the trove of posts earlier this month. “In one exchange, group members responded with indifference and wisecracks to the post of a news story about a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in May while in custody at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas. One member posted a GIF of Elmo with the quote, ‘Oh well.’ Another responded with an image and the words ‘If he dies, he dies.’”
“We take all the posts that were put out today very seriously. These do not represent the thoughts of the men and women of the US Border Patrol. Each one of these allegations will be thoroughly investigated,” Border Patrol Chief of Operations Brian Hastings told CNN. “[We’re] conducting a very comprehensive review and investigation of every individual who either posted, or commented or may have had knowledge of any of those posts.”