From Concentration Camps to private Facebook groups: when the rot of CBP comes to light
An investigative newsroom and the visit of Democratic lawmakers to detention centers on the border revealed the worst facet of the Trump Administration's immigration system... so far.
Lately, reading the news about politics in the United States is like receiving a direct kick to the pit of your stomach.
But the recent reporting of ProPublica - a media outlet that investigates the abuse of power in the United States - revealed misogyny, racism, and vulgarity among Border Patrol officers in a private Facebook group, and challenged even the most tolerant readers among us.
The group known as "I'm 10-15" (code that means "alien in custody" in the Agency), has an approximate of 9,500 members who "joked about the death of immigrants, talked about how to throw burritos at Latino members of Congress" and even published a vulgar illustration of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Before anyone tries to defend the latter by invoking the First Amendment, both the media and the Hispanic Caucus in Congress denounced the violence and the culture of hatred that is deeply rooted in the government’s agency.
“What these officers have posted online is despicable, racist and absolutely unacceptable,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, Chair of Families Belong Together. “They openly laughed on social media about a child who died on their agency’s watch. Congress needs to hold CBP accountable for a culture of racism that is clearly evident across their ranks and immediately close the camps to get children away from these sadists."
ProPublica’s story came to light only hours before a dozen lawmakers arrived in two immigrant detention centers in Texas on Monday, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Joe Kennedy III, Madeleine Dean, Rashida Tlaib and Joaquín Castro, who finally saw first hand the abuse that has been reported for months.
"It's hard to understate the enormity of the problem," Ocasio-Cortez wrote in her Twitter account. "We are talking systemic cruelty, with a dehumanizing culture that treats them like animals."
The Representatives visited the facilities located in El Paso and Clint, described by lawyers in a national lawsuit as dangerously inadequate, and discovered that words were not enough to paint the awful picture before them.
"(Officers were) keeping women in cells with no water and told them to drink out of the toilets," continued Ocasio-Cortez. "Some women's hair was falling out."
"The conditions are far worse than we ever could have imagined," said Madeleine Dean. "This is a human rights crisis."
In the meantime, the diatribe among the players on The Hill becomes grotesquely political, while thousands of immigrants suffer the consequences.
Senior CBP officials declared the Facebook group's comments were a "violation of the agency's standards of conduct," and that they would initiate an investigation immediately.
However, the National Border Patrol Council, a labor union of border agents, condemned the publications as "inappropriate" and "not representative of our employees." But they added that “Whether one agrees with the politics of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Escobar, they both must be treated with dignity and respect,” the statement said. “Similarly, when Rep. Ocasio-Cortez refers to CBP facilities as concentration camps and our agents as Nazis – when neither could be further from the truth – she does nothing to improve the political discourse.”