Last summer, ProPublica reported on the existence of this “I’m 10-15” Facebook group, where members gleefully shared absolutely horrific and disturbing content. In one post, members posted a photo of Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his baby Valeria, two migrants who tragically drowned in the Rio Grande last year due to the Trump administration’s inhumane policies. Members in the group referred to their bodies as “floaters.”
In another post, members mocked the death of 16-year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez while in Border Patrol custody. “One member posted a GIF of Elmo with the quote, ‘Oh well,’” ProPublica reported at the time. “Another responded with an image and the words ‘If he dies, he dies.’” Surveillance video later released showed that Carlos died alone in his cell.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, the member of Congress depicted being sexually assaulted in the faked image shared in the group, “did not immediately provide comment” about the firings, the LA Times continued. Border agents who were a part of the Facebook group had further attacked Ocasio-Cortez and colleague Veronica Escobar of Texas when they visited border facilities as part of their oversight responsibilities, ProPublica said.
“One member encouraged Border Patrol agents to hurl a ‘burrito at these bitches,’” the report said. “Another, apparently a patrol supervisor, wrote, ‘Fuck the hoes.’ ‘There should be no photo ops for these scum buckets,’ posted a third member.”
1. I’m one of the Latina members of Congress targeted by the hateful attacks & never received investigation results from @CBP.
2. The posts shouldn’t have just triggered firings but also an investigation into why other members never reported it.
3. @Facebook is a cesspool.
— Veronica Escobar (@vgescobar) July 16, 2020
The LA Times reported that the internal investigation into the Facebook group eventually grew to nearly 140 employees. Roughly half were apparently dismissed as “unsubstantiated,” and of the rest, most got away with a slap on the wrist: Aside from firing the four, CBP “suspended 38 without pay and disciplined an additional 27 ‘with reprimands or counseling,’ according to data provided to The Times by the agency.”
A 2015 report by a Homeland Security advisory council subcommittee noted the unprecedented corruption among CBP agents, finding that “arrests for corruption of CBP personnel far exceed, on a per capita basis, such arrests at other federal law enforcement agencies.”
But not much has changed in the five years since that report. As migrant children died under the agency’s watch for the first time in a decade, the Government Accountability Office found CBP violated the law by using the emergency funding Congress gave it to stop the deaths of people in its custody to instead support a vaccine program for its employees, as well as pay for a canine program, dirt bikes, and computer network upgrades.
But we’re sure those agents who participated in vile social media activities will take those reprimands seriously. Now after having participated in a racist and violent group that dehumanized migrants, they can return to their government jobs having immense control over the lives of those very same people.