While some members of Congress were en route to visit an immigration detention facility in Texas on Monday, July 1st, the contents of a private Facebook group contributed to by retired and current Border Patrol agents was leaked to the public. In it were conversations including disparaging remarks about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, racist jokes about the detainees and more.
The Facebook group was created in 2016 and has since accumulated almost 10,000 members nationwide. The current political climate is strained when it comes to the discussion of immigration with the ongoing controversy about the treatment of the children who are detained in the facilities. One of the particular facilities AOC was visiting was in Clint, Texas. It has been the focus of many in the past month due to an article by CBS This Morning that said doctors and attorneys “found about 250 infants, children and teens locked up for weeks without adequate food, water and sanitation.” The center was opened to journalists to tour following the publication of the article. AOC was outspoken about the conditions she witnessed and heard about in the detention center.
The Facebook group, called “I’m 10-15”, took a different perspective of the situation. One conversation was centered around a 16-year-old boy from Guatemala who became the fifth child since December of 2018 to die in U.S. custody. The comments about the incident included lighthearted responses such as a GIF of Elmo with the caption “oh well” and another member who said, “If he dies, he dies.” Other conversations that made light of the hardships of immigrants and the deaths of children were leaked through screenshots of the messaging group. There was also an image that was altered to represent AOC being forcefully engaged in oral sex with President Trump. In response to the suggestive image of AOC, she said, “It’s just indicative of the violent culture that we saw.”
The Facebook group’s remarks are not an isolated incident. In 2018, Matthew Bowmen’s phone was searched by federal investigators. Bowen, a U.S. Border Control agent, has a history with making racist comments about immigrants and has been accused of even hitting one migrant boy with his truck. In his text message history, Bowen referred to immigrants as “wild ass shitbags” and outright called them “subhuman” with the addition of other racist slurs. Again, there were more disparaging remarks about AOC along with other Hispanic members of Congress.
Since the leak of the screenshots of the “I’m 10-15” Facebook group, there has been an outcry for the current Border Patrol agents to be fired.
The Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost has since said, “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.”
Some believe an investigation should occur to get to the bottom of which officers participated in the racist and sexist conversations, but as of now, no one has been fired for their statements.