Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost testifies June 20, 2019, before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations. (Jaime Rodriguez Sr./CBP)

Border Patrol Agents Violating Standards of Conduct in Private Facebook Group ‘Will be Held Accountable,’ Provost Promises

Customs and Border Protection is investigating a report of a private Facebook group for Border Patrol employees that discussed throwing burritos at Latina lawmakers and depicted one female member of Congress in vulgar illustrations.

ProPublica said the group “I’m 10-15” was created in August 2016 and has about 9,500 members; it’s unclear how many of those are currently employed with CBP and how many may be former or retired members, or otherwise were invited to join the group. Reporters received screenshots of conversations within the group, including one about a 16-year-old detained Guatemalan migrant who died in May 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,'” said the report.

Regarding today’s visit by Democratic lawmakers, including Reps. Veronica Escobar (Texas) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), to view a Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas, “One member encouraged Border Patrol agents to hurl a ‘burrito at these bitches.’ Another, apparently a patrol supervisor, wrote, ‘Fuck the hoes.’ ‘There should be no photo ops for these scum buckets,’ posted a third member.”

One photo illustration posted in the Facebook group depicted Ocasio-Cortez engaging in oral sex with an illegal migrant, and “another is a photo illustration of a smiling President Donald Trump forcing Ocasio-Cortez’s head toward his crotch.”

Matthew Klein, assistant commissioner in CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility, said in a statement that CBP was “made aware” today “of disturbing social media activity hosted on a private Facebook group that may include a number of CBP employees.”

“CBP immediately informed DHS Office of the Inspector General and initiated an investigation,” he said. “CBP employees are expected to adhere to CBP’s Standards of Conduct, Directive No. 51735-013A both on and off duty, which states, ‘Employees will not make abusive, derisive, profane, or harassing statements or gestures, or engage in any other conduct evidencing hatred or invidious prejudice to or about one person or group on account of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability.’ This includes comments and posts made on private social media sites.”

Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost said that “these posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see — and expect — from our agents day in and day out.”

“Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable,” she added.

Ocasio-Cortez responded to the report on Twitter as she toured Border Patrol facilities today. “I see why CBP officers were being so physically & sexually threatening towards me,” she wrote after the first stop. “Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets. This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress.”

“We need greater transparency, oversight, and especially after the reports about the vile Facebook group, we need accountability,” Escobar tweeted. “No person who has that much disdain for another human being — especially the most vulnerable among us — should have a gun or a badge.”

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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