Secret Facebook Group Shows Border Patrol Agents Mocking Death Of Migrants And Some People Are Demanding Answers
In a secret Facebook group for former and current Border Patrol officers, members joke, celebrate and make racist, xenophobic and sexist memes about the inhumane treatment of migrants, those who have died trying to reach our borders and the politicians who support immigration reform.
For the last three years, “I’m 10-15,” a name that alludes to the Border Patrol’s code 10-15 for “aliens in custody,” has functioned as a digital space for its 9,500 members to connect and have “funny” and “serious” discussions about work with the patrol, its introduction says, according to a report by ProPublica.
The nonprofit investigative news outlet confirmed that many of the participants in the conversations had “legitimate Facebook profiles belonging to Border Patrol agents.”
On the page, members joked about the deaths of migrants. One member responded to a post about Carlos Gregorio Hernandez-Vasquez, a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in custody at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas, with a GIF of Elmo saying “Oh well.” Another replied, “If he dies, he dies.”
Most recently, members questioned the validity of the death of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, who drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande in June, suggesting that the viral photo taken by the Associated Press of the father and daughter lying dead was altered. “I HAVE NEVER SEEN FLOATERS LIKE THIS,” they wrote.
The agents also use the page for violent attacks against politicians who have expressed support for migrants, largely Sen. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). The congressional freshman, who has compared migrant detention centers to concentration camps, was repeatedly used as the subject of sexist memes and illustrations. In one, the Bronx Puerto Rican politician is seen performing oral sex on Donald Trump. In another, which was captioned “Lucky Illegal Immigrant Glory Hole Special Starring AOC,” she is depicted engaging in fellatio with a detained migrant.
In another post, participants discussed physically violating Ocasio-Cortez and Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar, who, alongside Rep. Joaquin Castro, is scheduled to tour a Border Patrol facility in Texas on Monday. Members posted a GoFundMe “for one CTX agent brave enough to throw a 10-15 burrito at one of these bitches.” Another member, who appears to be a patrol supervisor, responded, “Fuck the hoes.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who referred to the group as a “violent culture,” reflected on “I’m 10-15” on Twitter, saying, “There are 20,000 TOTAL Customs & Border Patrol agents in the US. 9,500 – almost HALF that number – are in a racist & sexually violent secret CBP Facebook group.”
She continued: “They’re threatening violence on members of Congress. How do you think they’re treating caged children+families?”
Castro, who is the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said the Facebook group confirms some of the worst criticisms of Customs and Border Protection.
“These are clearly agents who are desensitized to the point of being dangerous to migrants and their co-workers,” he said, adding, members “don’t deserve to wear any uniform representing the United States of America.”
In a statement on Twitter, CBP announced it had opened an investigation into the matter.
“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,” Border Patrol chief Carla Provost wrote.