Immigration

Secret US border patrol Facebook group mocks migrant deaths and congresswoman

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A secret Facebook group for current and former US Border Patrol agents has revealed racist memes, posts mocking migrants, and sexual 'threats' against a female congresswoman.

The dark series of posts uncovered within a secret Facebook group has revealed United States border patrol agents mocking migrant deaths and making sexually derogatory comments about a female congresswoman.

The group is called “I’m 10-15” - a reference to the Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody” - and was first reported by non-profit investigative news outlet ProPublica.

It labels itself a forum for “serious” and “funny” work-related discussion for past and present border patrol agents, according to a post revealed by ProPublica.

Among the posts reportedly included is a vulgar depiction of congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez labelled the group a “racist” and “sexually violent” secret group for border patrol agents.

“They’re threatening violence on members of Congress. How do you think they’re treating caged children+familes?” she said.

United States border patrol agents are responsible for monitoring the nation’s northern and southern borders.

Their activities have been put into the spotlight in the midst of President Donald Trump tough rhetoric against undocumented migrants crossing the United States-Mexico border.

This has included border patrol agents treatment of children and alleged splitting up of families in detention facilities at the border.

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Migrant girl recalls poor care at US border centre
Migrant girl recalls poor care at US border centre

ProPublica published several examples of posts it said were found in the group, which reportedly has around 9,500 members.

For example, a news story about a 16-year-old Guatemalan who died in Border Patrol custody elicited comments such as "Oh well" and "If he dies, he dies."

The posts also allegedly included discussing throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility, including Ms Ocasio Cortez and Rep. Veronica Escobar.

Ms Ocasio Cortez has been a frequent critic of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, which oversees the Border Patrol, and she just visited CBP border facilities housing migrants.

"There are 20,000 TOTAL Customs & Border Patrol agents in the US," Ms Ocasio-Cortez said in a message on Twitter linked to the ProPublica article.

"9,500 CBP officers sharing memes about dead migrants and discussing violence and sexual misconduct towards members of Congress," she said. "How on earth can CBP's culture be trusted to care for refugees humanely?"

Carla Provost, the head of the US Border Patrol (CBP), denounced the posts in the Facebook group.

"These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honour and integrity I see - and expect - from our agents day in and day out," Ms Provost said.

"Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable."

CBP said it had launched an investigation after being "made aware of disturbing social media activity hosted on a private Facebook group that may include a number of CBP employees."

Another post revealed by ProPublica discussed a photo of a father and his 23-month-old daughter found in the Rio Grande river.

The photo of the bodies has captured international attention.

The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Ramrez and his nearly 2-year-old daughter Valeria lie on the bank of the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico
The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Ramrez and his nearly 2-year-old daughter Valeria lie on the bank of the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico
AAP

But on the Facebook group, their legitimacy was allegedly questioned.

“I HAVE NEVER SEEN FLOATERS LIKE THIS,” a post wrote, according to ProPublica.

“Could this be another edited photo. We’ve all seen the Dems and liberal parties do some pretty sick things…,” the post read.

The secret Facebook group scandal comes after acting customs and border protection commissioner John Sanders announced he was resigning.

That decision came alongside an increase in the number of undocumented migrants crossing the border.

NBC News has reported a Department of Homeland Security document showing agents have been arming themselves because of fears the conditions could spark riots.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez was criticised last month by Republican members of Congress for labelling the facilities “concentration camps.”

In a post following her recent visit to the facility – she again raised her concerns over “psychological warfare” in the facilities.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez denounced the conditions she found at the CBP facilities when she visited.

"It's not just the kids. It's everyone. People drinking out of toilets, officers laughing in front of members of Congress," the congresswoman said.

"This has been horrifying so far," she said. "It is hard to understate the enormity of the problem."

"We're talking systemic cruelty w/a dehumanizing culture that treats them like animals."

 Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich, another on the tour of the facility said the focus on the treatment of children in detention should no longer be the only concern.

“We can't just focus on the children anymore,” tweeted Tlaib. “I met grandmothers, mothers and fathers who are suffering. This is devastating. The look in one father's eyes broke me. I can't look away.”

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