Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks is calling on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to answer for a Facebook group with over 9,000 agents which made derogatory and sexist remarks against Hispanic migrants and politicians in a letter signed by 14 other Members of Congress.
The letter, addressed to CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, asks if the agency has protocols to prevent and react to bigotry among its personnel and if it plans to implement any measures in the wake of a ProPublica report revealing the secret online group.
“We are deeply concerned by revelations of over 9,000 current and former employees of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection participating in a Facebook group where derogatory and racially offensive comments and content are shared,” Meeks’ letter said. “Some of the material suggests that these employees, whom have the public trust to look after refugees and migrants at our border, are dehumanizing these children and families. That content included jokes about the death of a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy.”
The letter specifically asks if there are guidelines to determine whether or not agents have gender or racial bias prior to incidents and if CBP will enact cultural changes.
It asks if there are structures in place to react to breaches in code of conduct as well as ascertaining the number of complaints filed against CBP by migrants and other parties to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General regarding conduct.
“Given reports of neglect and abuse at these facilities, observed by doctors, lawyers, reporters, and Members of this Congress, the workplace culture demonstrated by this page is not just inappropriate, it is dangerous to the welfare of children, women and girls, and others held in CBP facilities,” the letter added.
Among the 14 signed onto the letter are Carolyn Maloney, Nydia Velazquez, Grace Meng, Tom Suozzi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who has made multiple visits to migrant detention centers along the border.
Many posts within the secret Facebook group, named “I’m 10-15,” poked fun at images of immigrants found dead on the southern border and depicted doctored images of Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with President Donald Trump.
ProPublica corroborated the profiles of Border Patrol agents from discussions threats to real Facebook accounts.
Ocasio-Cortez recently visited a south Texas detention center where women were forced to drink out of toilets and claimed guards were waging “psychological warfare” on them.
This came after a Trump administration lawyer admitted that children in CBP custody were not provided toothbrushes or soap.