Things That Matter

A Secret Facebook Group For Immigration Officers Mocking Dead Migrants Has Been Exposed

It’s been revealed that members of a secret Facebook group for Border Patrol agents have been sharing jokes about migrant deaths, sexist memes about lawmakers and making racist comments. According to an investigation published by ProPublica, the secret Facebook page, for former and current Border Patrol officers, was called “I’m 10-15,” which refers to the Border Patrol’s code 10-15, for “aliens in custody.”

The page became a place for members to make racist, sexist, and inhumane comments about migrants, and government officials. Now, U.S. Border Patrol is facing backlash for the uncovered Facebook group.

Here’s what we know about the Facebook group.

Created in August 2016, the group described itself as a forum for “funny” and “serious” discussion about work with border patrol. “Remember you are never alone in this family,” the introduction said. There were roughly 9,500 members in the group, which according to Propublica, is nearly half the current number of Border Patrol officers.

The investigation also revealed that many of the people in the conversations on the group were “apparently legitimate Facebook profiles belonging to Border Patrol agents.” At this time it’s unclear if ProPublica was able to verify how many of the members are actually current or former border patrol agents.

Images show comments mocking drowned migrants Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria.

Credit: ProPublica

In a disturbing post, group members joked about the Salvadoran father and his 23-month-old daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande while trying to cross into the U.S. The image, which shows their bodies floating in the water, was the center of uproar against the Trump administrations asylum laws after being published by news organizations last week.

“I’m not trying to an a$$ but I HAVE NEVER SEEN FLOATERS LIKE THIS,” one member of the Facebook group wrote, suggesting the photo could have been edited. “We’ve all seen the dems and liberal parties do some pretty sick things…”

Another post shows a group member making fun of the death of Carlos Gregorio Hernandez-Vasquez, a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in custody at a Border Patrol station in Weslasco, Texas. A member responded to the news of his passing with a GIF of Elmo shrugging. “If he dies, he dies,” commented another.

Members of the group shared derogatory and sexist comments about lawmakers, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Veronica Escobar, D-Texas.

Credit: ProPublica

Lawmakers were a big target of the Facebook group. Users called Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Veronica Escobar both “hoes” and “scum buckets,” this included a comment that agents should throw a “burrito at these bitches.” Both lawmakers had planned visits to a Border Patrol facility outside El Paso on Monday but didn’t know of the group until after.

Ocasio-Cortez has been on of the most vocal and high-profile voices against the separation of families at the U.S-Border. She’s also spoken out about conditions at holding facilities and has compared migrant detention centers to concentration camps. Shortly after the story broke, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted the story with the comment, “This isn’t about ‘a few bad eggs.’ This is a violent culture.”

“9,500 CBP officers sharing memes about dead migrants and discussing violence and sexual misconduct towards members of Congress,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “How on earth can CBP’s culture be trusted to care for refugees humanely?”

There has been immediate backlash since the story broke.

Credit:@funder / Twitter

There has been swift and immediate condemning of the Facebook group from advocacy groups and fellow lawmakers. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus said the comments are unacceptable and demanded the offending officers be let go.

“Unfortunately, there are many within [Customs and Border Patrol] who have become desensitized to the point of being dangerous to the migrants in their care,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) said at a press conference in Clint, Texas. “I expect there will be a congressional investigation to get to the bottom of it.”

Many are calling the Facebook group a product of the culture within the border enforcement community. Customs and Border Protection is now undergoing an investigation into the group.

“These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see — and expect — from our agents day in and day out,” Carla Provost, Border Patrol chief, told NBC News. “Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”

Daniel Martinez, a sociologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson who studies the border, told ProPublica that the Facebook group reflects what “seems to be a pervasive culture of cruelty aimed at immigrants.”

“These comments and memes are extremely troubling,” Martinez said. “They’re clearly xenophobic and sexist.”

READ: This Is The Emotional Cartoon That Got An Artist Fired From His Job For Criticizing Trump’s Immigration Policies

Big Brands Drop Ads From Facebook To Demand The Platform To Join Fight Against Hate Speech

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Big Brands Drop Ads From Facebook To Demand The Platform To Join Fight Against Hate Speech

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Update June 29, 2020: The boycott on Facebook ads is growing faster than ever and reaching a global level. The growing demand for Facebook to target and handle hate speech and extremism on its platform has led to a far-reaching boycott of ads on the social media site.

The boycott of Facebook ads is going global.

Since the boycott was announced earlier this month, 160 companies have joined the #StopHateforProfit boycott targeting Facebook. Two major companies, Coca-Cola and Starbucks, say they are not part of the boycott. However, the two companies have announced that they will be pausing all ads on social media platforms for the month of July.

Starbucks is not officially part of the #StopHateforProfit movement but the decision is being praised by advocates.

The boycott is having a very real impact on Facebook’s business. Facebook stock lost more than $60 billion in value as more and more businesses cut advertising ties with the social media platform. The 9 percent drop in Facebook’s market prices prompted Facebook executives to begin tweaking some policies to go after hate speech.

Original: Facebook is in trouble as several major brands pull their ads from the social media platform. The coordinated move from the brands was in response to Facebook’s intentional inaction in curbing hate speech on the platform.

Facebook is facing financial troubles as major brands pull ads over the platform’s stance on hate speech.

The NAACP teamed up with other organizations to create the Stop Hate for Profit campaign. The campaign is aimed at Facebook and is calling on brands to separate from the social media platform for at least one month, July. The point of the campaign is to call out Facebook for their willingness to profit off of organizations that disseminate and amplify white nationalist rhetoric. Some of the rhetoric has been racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, and violent in nature.

“For five years, Color Of Change has called on Facebook to do the right thing and make their platform safer for the millions of Black people that use it,” reads a statement on the Color Of Change website. “From the monetization of hate speech to discrimination in their algorithms to the proliferation of voter suppression to the silencing of Black voices, Facebook has refused to take responsibility for hate, bias, and discrimination growing on their platforms.”

Brands are responding and pulling their ads from Facebook.

Recently, Verizon and Unilever joined the growing list of businesses pulling ads to stand up to Facebook’s monetization of hate speech. People have been demanding that Facebook do something to control the hate speech that has incited violence in recent years. Yet, Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, refuses to curb the violent speech on the platform.

The Anti-Defamation League laid out the reasons they are calling for the boycott.

The ADL is calling on brands to drop Facebook ads to combat what is considered as a long history of amplifying hate speech. According to the league, the social media platform routinely recommends extremist pages to users, created a loophole to allow for climate change deniers to push anti-science conspriacy theories further, and, in one example, Facebook refused to take down Holocaust denial content.

The social media platform has long been criticized for allowing misinformation to manipulate elections around the world.

Cambridge Analytica is one of the most famous cases of this happening. In the Netflix documentary “The Great Hack,” dives deep into how the firm was able to use Facebook to spread intentional misinformation to sway elections around the world. People who worked for the tech firm testified that they were able to use Facebook to target individuals who could be swayed with false information to illicit a vote for their client. It happened in several countries, including the U.S. in the 2016 elections and the U.K. during the Brexit vote.

Facebook has so far decided to remain defiant in the face of calls to do better.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook is not going to be changing their policies. Instead, the company is going to keep pushing forward with its current strategy of monetizing and helping to spread the extremist and dangerous rhetoric.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Carolyn Everson, the vice president of Global Business Group at Facebook, said, “We do not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure.” She continued: “We set our policies based on principles rather than business interests.”

READ: ICE Is Using Fake Facebook Accounts To Entrap Migrants Even Though Facebook Has Warned The Government To Stop

She Gave Birth While Still Wearing Her Jeans Because Border Patrol Agents Ignored Her Pleas For Help

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She Gave Birth While Still Wearing Her Jeans Because Border Patrol Agents Ignored Her Pleas For Help

Sherry Munoz / Getty

Unfortunately, there have been no shortage of stories detailing the cruelty experienced by migrants at the hands of Border Patrol officers. But this one in particular has struck a chord with people.

In February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that it had safely helped an asylum-seeker give birth while in custody. But the woman herself has now come forward and thrown that narrative into doubt.

Border Patrol agents in California are now under investigation for alleged abusive treatment of a pregnant woman in their custody.

The complaint filed Wednesday details how a Guatemalan woman gave birth at the Chula Vista Border Patrol station near San Diego, standing up, holding onto a trash can while still wearing her pants. She had pleaded with Border Patrol agents for help, but they reportedly told her to sit down and wait to be processed.

She had been detained with her husband and two young daughters in February as they hoped to apply for asylum in the U.S.

The mother, who delivered her baby while still wearing her pants, asked agents for help repeatedly and mentioned she was in pain.

They were in the midst of being processed by agents when after about 30 minutes, her husband could hear the baby crying through the fabric of her pants.

According to the complaint, which was filed by the ACLU and Jewish Family Service of San Diego, the woman, whom lawyers call Anna, gave birth while wearing her pants, and holding onto a garbage can, even after she complained of womb pain on the trip to the Border Patrol station. 

The complaint states that her husband, who was arrested along with their two other children while crossing the border, helped pull down her pants to reveal his partially-born daughter. The baby was then birthed in the cell, in full sight of other detainees and Border Patrol employees.

The woman and her newborn were later taken to Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center where they were discharged and returned to the station for the night, during which the newborn was not given a sufficient blanket, the complaint claims, adding that Ana was only allowed to shower when she was released to the Jewish Family Service Migrant Family Shelter three days after giving birth.

Yup – Border Patrol agents let a woman endure a painful labor and risked the life of a baby by ignoring her request for help.

Later, at a family shelter run by Jewish Family Service of San Diego, the new mother was interviewed about her alleged mistreatment. After hearing her story, the shelter contacted the American Civil Liberties Union and together, both agencies filed the complaint on the mother’s behalf.

The family is now safe and healthy and reunited with family members in another part of the US, Kate Clark, senior director of immigration services at Jewish Family Service of San Diego, told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday.

Originally, the Border Patrol had released a statement praising their officers for helping a woman deliver a baby – that now looks like it wasn’t entirely true.

The Border Patrol, in a statement published Feb. 19, said the woman “did not appear to be in distress and did not request any medical attention” when she was first apprehended. It went on to say that staff “prepared an area for the mother to give birth” at the Chula Vista station.

Alongside the complaint filed by the ACLU, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal is writing a letter to Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari also demanding an investigation.

The letter is signed by 12 other members of Congress, including Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar, and it seconds the ACLU’s demand for an investigation into the woman’s specific incident, as well as several similar instances of the mistreatment of pregnant people in immigration custody, and an overhaul of DHS policies on the detainment of pregnant people.