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

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The FBI Is Investigating the ‘Trump Train’ Group With Ties to QAnon That Brigaded Biden’s Campaign Bus

Things That Matter

The FBI Is Investigating the ‘Trump Train’ Group With Ties to QAnon That Brigaded Biden’s Campaign Bus

Photo: Getty Images/Scott Olson

Investigative reporters found that the caravan of Trump supporters who blocked Joe Biden’s campaign bus in Texas have ties to QAnon conspiracy theory activity online. The fact-finding website Snopes discovered that the caravan was organized in a Facebook group called “Alamo City Trump Trains,” a group that is “littered with activity” tied to QAnon

According to Snopes, the “Alamo City Trump Trains” Facebook group is comprised of people who post pro-Trump memes and content. The pro-Trump group apparently has many members that frequently post QAnon references and lingo. QAnon flags and merchandise can also be spotted at the group’s events and in their YouTube videos.

The group organized the brigade through posts hash-tagged with #OperationBlockTheBus. Hundreds of the group’s members interacting with the posts, commenting and “liking” them.

As background, a group of Trump-supporters in trucks brigaded Joe Biden’s campaign bus on October 20th while it was on the Interstate 35 in Texas. Video shows trucks decked out in Pro-Trump flags and blocking-in and tailgating the Biden bus as well as the white SUV that was accompanying the bus.

At one point, the SUV attempted to change lanes to remain behind the campaign bus but a Trump truck prevented it from doing so. The footage shows the two cars colliding in a minor fender-bender as the truck blocks the SUV from changing lanes. According to Snopes, extended footage of the accident was even posted inside the private Facebook group. Snopes also reported that the incident is being investigated by the FBI.

The stand-off is notable because it shows the complete lack of civility our country has descended into on the eve of this historic election. Political division are no longer relegated to family arguments and Facebook rants, but have transformed into real-world violence.

QAnon is a dangerous far-right conspiracy theory that alleges that left-leaning politicians and celebrities are actually Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking ring. Believers are convinced that Trump is fighting against this evil cabal. The claims, needless to say, are completely false, but that hasn’t stopped some Trump supporters from spreading the harmful and inflammatory misinformation online.

And while young people are not immune from falling for these dangerous conspiracy theories, it is older generations who are more likely to believe in them. A recent study conducted by Princeton University found that people aged 65 years and older are seven times more likely to share fake news and misinformation on social media than those aged 18-29. Experts chalk it up to “digital media literacy”–millennials and Gen Z-ers have grown up on the internet, and have thus fine-tuned their radar that separates fact from fiction. Older generations are not as savvy.

Already, both Facebook and Twitter have attempted to reign in the harm of QAnon conspiracy theories, banning mentions of QAnon theories from their platforms. The social media giants have said that they believe the messages could lead to potential real-world violence.

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The First Trailer For ‘Red Table Talk: The Estefans’ is Here— ‘We’re Loud, We’re Proud, Let’s Go’

Entertainment

The First Trailer For ‘Red Table Talk: The Estefans’ is Here— ‘We’re Loud, We’re Proud, Let’s Go’

Red Table Talk / Facebook Watch

¡Wepa! After months and months of waiting Facebook Watch’s “Red Table Talk: The Estefans” starring the iconic musician Gloria Estefan and the women in her family is officially… almost here!

The new addition to Facebook’s “Red Table Talk” franchise (which originally starred Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris) will star Estefan, her daughter Emily Estefan, and her niece Lili Estefan it will premiere this month on October 7 and will allow fans to tune in as the three women talk real-world matters with family, celebrity friends, and other guests.

The Estefans are putting it all on the Red Table this month, taking on topics like mental health, sexuality, and heartbreak.

Estefans

The new series will be filmed in Miami and will see the three-time Grammy and four-time Latin Grammy award winner sitting alongside her daughter and musician Emily Estefan and her niece, Daytime Emmy Award-winning TV host, Lili Estefan. Gloria Estefan is executive producing the series alongside Jada Pinkett Smith.

Speaking about the series, Pinkett Smith told Deadline in a statement earlier this year that she was “incredibly proud of Red Table Talk, and thrilled to build upon this franchise with my family and with Gloria, Emily and Lili… Red Table Talk has created a space to have open, honest and healing conversations around social and topical issues, and what’s most powerful for me is hearing people’s stories and engaging with our fans in such a tangible way on the Facebook Watch platform. I’m excited to see the Estefans put their spin on the franchise and take it to new places.”

Besides executive producing, Gloria will also take on the occasional role of table mediator while her niece Lili will act as the table’s veteran interviewer. Speaking about the show, Gloria says in the trailer “Three different women, three different generations… We’re loud, we’re proud, let’s go.”

Mina Lefevre, the head of development & programming for Facebook Watch has called the new series a “shining example” of content.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to be in business with such wonderful partners and are thrilled to expand the Red Table Talk franchise with Jada Pinkett Smith, the Estefans and Westbrook Studios,” Lefevre commented. “Red Table Talk is a shining example of how content, community, and conversation come together on Facebook Watch. We’re proud to keep this conversation going around topics our fans care about.”

Check out the trailer below!

Yes! Let’s do this!

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