Things That Matter

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

customsborder / Instagram

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

Thanks To Trump’s ‘Remain In México’ Policy, A Man And His Kid Were Kidnapped Hours After Returning To Mexico

Things That Matter

Thanks To Trump’s ‘Remain In México’ Policy, A Man And His Kid Were Kidnapped Hours After Returning To Mexico

Unsplash

It seems like every day we hear another tragic story about a family being denied entry to the US, or a archer dying with his daughter as they attempt to cross the Rio Grande. The news coming from the US-Mexico border is largely framed in Trump’s quest to literally seal it off from the rest of the world. 

What we lose in that narrative are the stories that paint the truly disturbing picture of US complacency in the crimes that are being perpetrated against the people we are sending back to Mexico as they await their court dates. Many of these people are fleeing extreme violence and poverty in their native countries and yet the US is forcing entire families to wait in what they themselves call “no-go zones” — areas that are so dangerous the US advises it’s own citizens to avoid all travel to.

Trump’s ‘Migrant Protection Protocols’ – commonly known as ‘Remain in Mexico’ – is jeopardizing people’s lives. 

According to a report by VICE News, a man and his family were kidnapped hours after being turned back to Mexico. 

After being turned away by US immigration officials, under the guise of Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, a man identified as David says cartel members surrounded David and a dozen other migrants at a bus station. The exact same bus station the US border patrol had just dropped them off at. 

David is among the estimated 42,000 asylum seekers who’ve been returned to Mexico in recent months under President Trump’s new asylum policies. The Trump administration calls the policy “Migrant Protection Protocols,” but far from offering protection, the policy has led to a brutal wave of kidnappings in some of Mexico’s most dangerous border cities.

“They are sending them to a place that is too dangerous,” Laura, David’s sister, told VICE News. “Why are they doing this? Why, if Mexico is a place that is so dangerous?”

The man and his child were forced into trucks and taken away. 

David told VICE News that he and another dozen or so asylum seekers who had been returned that day to Mexico arrived at the bus station in Nuevo Laredo, a group of 20 men were already waiting for them. Immediately, the men forced David, his child, and the other migrants into trucks, as an immigration official looked their way but did nothing. 

And according to “David,” an immigration official looked their way and did nothing to help. 

David said the kidnappers took his few belongings, including the paperwork U.S. Customs and Border Protection had given him. Without it, he and his child can’t enter the U.S. to attend their hearing in December.

The kidnappers took a dozen pictures of each of the migrants who were being held, and they took notes on everyone — their full names, where they were from, their family members. The cartel was also holding at least 20 other men, plus dozens of children and women, who “were treated like pieces of meat,” David said.

They separated the women from the men, and beat any of the men who turned to look. David said one man tried to escape and they shot him dead.

The cartels know these are some of the most vulnerable people and they’re ready to make money off their suffering.

Powerful criminal organizations have seized on Trump’s changes, targeting asylum seekers with family in the U.S. by holding them hostage until their relatives come up with thousands of dollars to pay for their release.

And the US government is letting it happen.

In Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, across from El Paso, Texas, more than 6,000 people are registered as waiting in line just to receive court dates. Many are at shelters run by charities where small children have been sleeping for months on exercise mats. Shelters have been attacked by gunmen, and migrants have been kidnapped by human traffickers as they wait for their names to be called by the U.S. Often, only 10 to 20 families a day are interviewed.

At a migrant camp on the Mexico side of the Gateway International Bridge, which links Matamoros to Brownsville, Texas, migrants don’t have access to showers and resort to bathing in the Rio Grande River, said Dani Marrero Hi, an outreach coordinator at the Texas Civil Rights Project. Earlier this week, a 17-year-old girl had to be rescued after she couldn’t swim against the current, she said.

The Hispanic Caucus wasn’t mincing words, saying they completely blame the administration for this tragedy. 

Several non profit organizations and members of Congress have admonished the administration for acting without care for any of these people’s lives and safety.

Yet a recent Supreme Court ruling empowers Trump to take his cruel ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy even further.

The decision allows the Trump administration to enforce a new rule sharply limiting who can apply for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. While a legal challenge proceeds, Central Americans who cross through Mexico won’t be able to claim refugee status in the U.S. unless they previously applied for protection from one of the countries they passed through.

After the court decision was announced, the White House issued a statement saying it allowed the administration to make “needed fixes to the broken asylum system,” adding, “This greatly helps build on the progress we’ve made addressing the crisis at our southern border and will ultimately make American communities safer.”

The latest blow to people fleeing violence and political unrest arrives amid President Donald Trump’s push to drive down border crossings. Those numbers have already plunged after he persuaded Mexico under threat of tariffs to send more than 25,000 national guard troops to its borders and to receive tens of thousands of asylum seekers awaiting court hearings in the U.S.

An Oakland Raiders Game Was Raided By ICE And A Community Is Left Wondering Where Is Next

Things That Matter

An Oakland Raiders Game Was Raided By ICE And A Community Is Left Wondering Where Is Next

Outside of a school or courthouse. A place of business such as a meat factory plant. A traffic stop. Outside your home. What do all of these locations have in common? These are all place where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have shown up to detain, roundup, and arrest undocumented people. They can also show up just about anywhere, even sports games. 

On the first day of the Raiders season —during a game against the Denver Broncos — the real commotion wasn’t on the football but rather outside in the parking lot where ICE showed up. 

Credit: Instagram/@raiders

On Sept. 9, at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, ICE was there to seize unofficial Raiders merchandise. It’s unclear if they were there looking for undocumented people, or whether they believed the vendors of the unofficial Raiders merchandise were undocumented people. Either way, ICE agents took all of the fake swag. 

ICE reports they seized $11,000 worth of counterfeit goods. ICE also claims that last week’s seizure is part of a nationwide trend of illegal merchandise that generates $1.4 billion a year. 

Credit: Instagram/@itstartedinoaklandbaby

“Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Francisco is committed to conducting intellectual property theft investigations throughout the year and preventing the sale of counterfeit goods during the home opener of the Oakland Raiders is just one example of HSI working to ensure that the public is purchasing legitimate products” Tatum King, special agent in charge, HSI San Francisco and Northern California, said in a press release statement. King added, “The lost revenue equals lost jobs and counterfeit materials typically contain substandard products and can also be a safety risk to the public.”

Here’s what ICE said you should look for when purchasing your Raiders gear: 

Credit: Instagram/@BzioaFenxn3

  • Shop at authorized retail locations, such as the official team stores rather than buying items from street vendors, flea markets, online auctions or other questionable sources
  • Buy tickets from authorized dealers
  • Look out for ripped tags or irregular markings on apparel
  • If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. While some counterfeiters may attract fans with a low price tag or 2-for-1 deal, just as many try to legitimize their merchandise with a higher price point.

“Oakland Raiders fans attending the first game of the season deserve genuine products and the proceeds of counterfeit merchandise ends up in the hands of transnational criminal organizations engaged in varying types of illegal activities,” King stated. King didn’t elaborate or give evidence as to the type of criminal organizations they have arrested in the past. 

People on social media were not pleased to hear that ICE attended an NFL game during the kick-off of Hispanic Heritage Month.

It is definitely clear that ICE wanted to show their presence at an NFL game especially when an overwhelming amount of Latinx were expected to show up. 

This is not the first time ICE and the NFL have partnered up. ICE has paid for commercials during the Super Bowl games.

It’s not clear whether these campaigns launched by ICE — that included the hashtag #TackleICE — but it’s not so much about whether something works or doesn’t. ICE wants to get their message across that they are everywhere, and there’s no denying that. 

Some on social media some wondered now that Jay Z is an official NFL employee whether he will speak up against ICE and about how they’re targeting Latinos. 

Last month, the NFL announced that they “formally launched the Inspire Change initiative in early 2019, after more than two years of work with NFL players, with the goal of creating positive change in communities across the country.” The NFL added, “Through this initiative, NFL teams and the league office work with the Players Coalition and other NFL players to support programs and initiatives that reduce barriers to opportunity, with a focus on three priority areas: education and economic advancement; police and community relations; and criminal justice reform.”

“With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country,” Jay Z said in a press release. “Roc Nation has shown that entertainment and enacting change are not mutually exclusive ideas — instead, we unify them. This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America.”

Do these communities include undocumented immigrants? 

We will have to wait and see how Jay’s involvement will help the Latino community, especially as the NFL is clearly targeting them. 

ICE also failed to disclose why they were targeting illegal merchandise since that doesn’t seem to all under the umbrella of immigration. Also, if ICE is showing up at games, you know they will definitely be attending the Dodgers games as well. Just for a heads up, here’s the entire Raiders season schedule 

READ: ICE Had A Super Bowl Campaign But Immigrant Advocates Clapped Back With #TackleICE