What is it about Customs and Border Protection agents and their fondness for sharing offensive content in private Facebook groups?
That’s a rhetorical question.
For the second time in a week, CBP agents have been discovered sharing offensive posts in a private Facebook group that mock asylum-seekers, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, African Americans, and Asians.
CNN obtained screenshots of a secret Facebook group called “The Real CBP Nation,” which has about 1,000 members. Among the content shared in the group was a disturbing meme that “jokes” about the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the border.
The meme is a photo of Border Patrol agents detaining an unidentified man at the U.S. southern border with the words, “Feelin Kinda Cute, Might Separate Some Families Today IDK.”
Another shows an altered photo of Ocasio-Cortez asking, “Is this a toilet?” In the background is a drinking fountain. After visiting several CBP facilities with a congressional delegation earlier this week, Ocasio-Cortez said that Border Patrol officers had told detained women to drink out of toilets. She also accused CBP officers of being “physically & sexually threatening” toward her.
One source that communicated with CNN about the latest Facebook group said, “Racism and sexism in the Border Patrol just doesn’t belong.”
This follows an investigation by ProPublica that exposed a secret Facebook group called “I’m 10-15,” which is Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody.” That group, which had 9,500 members, joked about the deaths of migrants, shared vulgar illustrations of Ocasio-Cortez, and mocked Democratic lawmakers.
After ProPublica’s investigation was published, CBP issued a statement saying it was “made aware of disturbing social media activity hosted on a private Facebook group that may include a number of CBP employees.”
That turned out to be a lie, because officials had known about the group for years and had failed to act. According to Politico, agents reported offensive photos shared in the group to agency leadership in 2016. Two years later, a senior CBP official warned agency employees of possible disciplinary action for inappropriate or offensive content shared in the group, CNN reported.
“The bottom line is the Agency may bring discipline against an employee who posts offensive messages on a social media page where there is a nexus to the Agency workplace,” Matthew Klein, assistant commissioner of CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility, wrote in a 2018 memo.
Following media reports, the group “I’m 10-15” briefly changed its name to “America First,” a reference to Donald Trump’s xenophobic political mantra, before it was archived, CNN reported.
In the group “The Real CBP Nation,” members commented on the shuttering of “I’m 10-15,” with one person commenting, “We’re in this till the end.”
Facebook also apparently intervened in the second group.
A Facebook spokesperson told CNN on Friday that the company had removed content from the group that was in violation of the social network’s policy.
“We have removed several pieces of content from the Group ‘The Real CBP Nation’ for violating our policies on Bullying and Harassment, Cruel and Insensitive content, and Sexual Exploitation of Adults. We believe in giving people a voice, but we also want everyone using Facebook to feel safe. That’s why we have Community Standards and remove anything that violates them,” said the spokesperson in a statement.
CBP officers also were criticized this week for attempting to humiliate a Honduran man at a migrant detention center in Texas last March by making him hold a sign that read, “Me gustan los hombres”—Spanish for “I like men.” According to CNN, the man was “paraded through a migrant detention center” with the sign until another agent intervened and reported the incident to superiors.
Referring to CBP detention centers on Friday, Trump told reporters he’d “seen some of those places” and they “are run beautifully.”
“They’re incredible,” he added. “They’re really well-run.”