Active and former members of the U.S. border patrol belonging to a secret Facebook group joked about migrant deaths, throwing burritos at and sexually assaulting members of a visiting contingent of Latino congress members.
The secret Facebook group contains close to 10,000 members, or roughly half as many as currently serve as border patrol agents in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. This story comes on the heels of a study exposing racist Facebook postings by police officers across the country. In Philadelphia alone 72 officers were placed on desk duty for racist or otherwise offensive posts uncovered by the study. The Plain View Project “sought to compile posts, comments, and other public activity that could undermine public trust in the police and reinforce the views of critics, especially in minority communities, that the police are not there to protect them.” The research showed that of the officers who could be identified on Facebook, 1 in 5 of the current officers and 2 in 5 of the retired officers made comments that met the criteria of “typically by displaying bias, applauding violence, scoffing at due process, or using dehumanizing language.”
The secret CBP Facebook group called “I’m 10-15,” was founded three months prior to Donald Trump’s electoral victory. “10-15” is Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody.” The agency, which patrols both the northern and southern boundaries, has come under greater scrutiny lately for its treatment of detained children under the Trump administration. At least seven migrant children have died in the last year after almost a decade in which no children had been reported to have died while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The practice of separating children from their families has been especially condemned.
Leaked posts and commentary from inside the “I’m 10-15” group reveal an online environment with special indifference and hatred towards migrants and their suffering. Migrants are often referred to by dehumanizing terms and even photos of dead children are lampooned. A scheduled tour by members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Veronica Escobar, to a Border Patrol facility near El Paso drew an especially venomous reaction in the group. One member recommended Border Patrol agents throw a “burrito at these [B-words.]” In one posted meme Ocasio-Cortex is portayed engaging in oral sex at an immigrant detention center with extremely vulgar accompanying text. A staffer for Escobar described the posts on AOC and Escobar as “vile and sexist.” The staffer stated: “Furthermore, the comments made by Border Patrol agents towards immigrants, especially those that have lost their lives, are disgusting and show a complete disregard for human life and dignity.” (ProPublica)
This is only the latest incident to reveal law enforcement personnel’s connections to facsist and reactionary tendencies. Juxtaposed, the consistent xenophobia and uniform culture of indifference to the suffering of Brown people across various law enforcement agencies reveals a stark reality, that for people of color, every town is a potential border town.