CBP Agents Flocked To Closed Facebook Groups To Post Bigoted Memes And Insult Detainees

from the probably-still-flocking,-just-switching-URLs dept

In news that will surprise no one, Customs and Border Protection — like many other law enforcement agencies — is shot through with bigots and sadists. ProPublica was sent screenshots from a closed Facebook group composed of Border Patrol agents. The “10-15 Group,” named for the Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody,” entertained itself by posting offensive memes and generally treating the people they interact with most as subhuman, at best.

Members of a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents joked about the deaths of migrants, discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility in Texas on Monday and posted a vulgar illustration depicting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant, according to screenshots of their postings.

In one exchange, group members responded with indifference and wisecracks to the post of a news story about a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in May while in custody at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas. One member posted a GIF of Elmo with the quote, “Oh well.” Another responded with an image and the words “If he dies, he dies.”

If there’s anyone out there that still believes law enforcement agencies are filled with the best kind of people, I’m sorry you’ve had your illusions shattered so late in life. There’s nothing about these jobs that draws the best people. Turnover is a constant problem so we’re left with the kind of people that enjoy the thought of capturing and incarcerating other human beings. This closed group is just a digital manifestation of the ugliness lying below the surface of the CBP.

This shouldn’t surprise you. It sure as fuck didn’t surprise CBP management.

Customs and Border Protection officials have been aware for up to three years that a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents was posting offensive messages — far longer than previously reported.

Border Patrol leadership knew about photos posted to the group as far back as 2016, when agents reported them, according to a current Homeland Security official.

According to this Politico report, not a single agent was ever punished or reprimanded for their comments and posts in this closed group. Sure, they’re being denounced now by top Homeland Security officials, but it’s years too late. CBP supervisors had an opportunity to pass this up the ladder three years ago but did nothing. Springing into action when there are no options left is no one’s idea of heroic. There’s no excusing the CBP’s refusal to act when it was first notified. There’s finally an Inspector General’s investigation underway, but it will be months or years before we see results from this, if ever.

The CBP continues to stand by its personnel, saying most of its staff are good people not prone to posting bigoted content to closed Facebook groups. This is a pretty safe stance to take when no one’s outing the members of the 10-15 Group. But that stance has already passed its expiration date. The Intercept infiltrated the group and managed to make off with tons of screenshots before posts were deleted by members and moderators following the ProPublica article.

Not only is The Intercept publishing the screenshots it grabbed, it’s publishing them with the names of CBP agents on full display. Good. Speech has consequences and DC politicians have been promising retribution. With names out in the open, the Congressional bluff has been called. Put up or shut up, reps. And I’m sure the CBP Inspector General appreciates any input it can get, even if it has to come from outside sources.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE

At least one other social media group with an apparent nexus to Customs and Border Protection has been discovered to contain vulgar and sexually explicit posts, according to screenshots shared by two sources familiar with the Facebook pages.

The secret Facebook group, “The Real CBP Nation,” which has around 1,000 members, is host to an image that mocks separating migrant families, multiple demeaning memes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, and other derisive images of Asians and African Americans.

According to posts seen by CNN, members of this closed group expressed their disappointment at the exposure and semi-shuttering of the 10-15 Group. Some members also called those bailing on the now-toxic group “cowards,” as if distancing yourself from a sinking ship filled with burning shit wasn’t the CBP way.

And, once again, there’s evidence CBP officials were well aware of these groups and the content they posted.

In 2018, a senior official warned all agency employees of potential discipline, after having been informed of a private Facebook group with inappropriate and offensive posts, according to a memo obtained by CNN.

“Recently the Agency was made aware of a private Facebook group page that only a specific group of CBP employee could access, on which inappropriate and offensive posts were made,” Klein wrote.

Either no one got the memo or memos simply don’t work. Top DHS and CBP officials will likely pretend this represents a small portion of the CBP workforce — the worst of the worst. But it doesn’t. It represents a cross-section of its workforce. Some have no qualms posting bigoted memes to Facebook. For other employees, having a job that caters to their biases and prejudices is its own reward.

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Comments on “CBP Agents Flocked To Closed Facebook Groups To Post Bigoted Memes And Insult Detainees”

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79 Comments
Uriel-238says:

A border with a criminal reputation

I’d call them badlands. There’s no crime in a region where there are neither consistent laws nor legitimate efforts by state agents to enforce those laws.

And no the US legal system has proven it doesn’t give a jot of interest in fair adjudication, only successful prosecutions even to the point of filling prisons — and detentions centers — with warm bodies. No due process is happening.

So the Mexican border is patrolled by frontier justice or jungle law. The guys with guns have carte blanch, including the lattitude to rape, kidnap or kill, and nothing is being done.

It wouldn’t surprise me if there are mass graves already.

PaulTsays:

Re: authenticity?

"How can we be sure that those controversial comments were made by real border guards and not some agents provocateur"

Employment records, I presume. There might certainly be a few trolls, but if you can show that the people making the comments were actually employed as CBP agents, a lot of their defences evaporate.

Uriel-238says:

Re: authenticity?

How many comments do we have? If it’s a screen capture of a page with about three or four comments, you may have a point. But it sounds like they have years worth.

That’s rather difficult to falsify.

Then you need someone who has an agenda who figures this is the best way to utilize resources. The thing is, migrants rights groups have plenty of other places to pull actual events of atrocity and inhumane treatment. They don’t need to fabricate hate in a Facebook forum.

Also it’s a plausible problem as confirmed by officials in the CPB.

Thadsays:

In news that will surprise no one, Customs and Border Protection — like many other law enforcement agencies — is shot through with bigots and sadists.

I suspect the problem is even more pervasive and fundamental in CBP than it is in other agencies. A group whose job involves arresting people at the border is, by its nature, going to attract a disproportionate number of people who have certain opinions about the sorts of people who are likely to be crossing the southern border.

Either no one got the memo or memos simply don’t work. Top DHS and CBP officials will likely pretend this represents a small portion of the CBP workforce — the worst of the worst. But it doesn’t. It represents a cross-section of its workforce.

And a pretty damn big cross-section, at that. The group had 9,500 members. CBP has about 46,000 officers. If all 9,500 members were CBP officers, and none of them were redundant accounts, that would mean about 1 officer in 5 was a member of the group.

geemansays:

Just because they work for CBP doesn’t stop them from being human. They do retain the right to have a sense of humor that doesn’t match with yours. Its also been proved that PTSD and an incredibly dark sense of humor are related.

https://psychcentral.com/lib/humor-as-weapon-shield-and-psychological-salve/

Its not a great link but it explains it aptly enough. I would caution you on seeing a meme and then promptly using that as the definition of being a terrible person. That same logic is why we have issues with Congress. Techdirt cautions Congress from overreacting and taking an emotional response to a logical problem. I suggest that Techdirt does the same on this one.

Anonymoussays:

Re:

if they have ptsd, that certainly says that somewhere deep down, they have consciences that they are ignoring. it also means there is something horribly, horribly wrong with their jobs. yet that is the sort of job they want. huh.

also, you can have ptsd and not be an asshole in that manner. that’s just the underlying personality.

That One Guysays:

Re: Re: Re:

Everyone has the option not to choose to be an asshole(in dire circumstances that choice may be taken away, but this isn’t one of them), someone who comes to that point and doesn’t choose the ‘asshole’ option most certainly does have the moral high ground over someone who went with the other option.

PaulTsays:

Re:

"Just because they work for CBP doesn’t stop them from being human."

Also, crossing the border, sometimes in a perfectly legal attempt to apply for asylum does not make one less than human. Yet, here we are with concerns about the way that the people in these groups are treating them anyway.

"Its also been proved that PTSD and an incredibly dark sense of humor are related."

So, we shouldn’t be concerned about people having severe bigotry issues against people they have control over because they might have been severely psychologically damaged before they took the job? That sounds backwards to me.

I agree that caution should be taken, but those really aren’t convincing reasons.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

The people involved in the current crisis are not crossing the border in a perfectly legal way.

International law and conventions on asylum-seeking refugees are perfectly clear on this matter: you apply for asylum in the first safe country you come to. Period. For these people, that means Mexico. Continuing on to the USA because they think they can find a sweeter deal here… there’s nothing "perfectly legal" about that whatsoever.

bobsays:

Re: Re: Re:

And who is to say that Mexico is safer than their previous country? Mexico is better than some other Latin countries but it still has issues with cartels running the show instead of the government in different areas.

This is why you should be allowed to plead your case first and then asylum can be applied if appropriate.

Uriel-238says:

Being Human

Just because they work for CBP doesn’t stop them from being human.

That kind of humor does indicate someone isn’t fit for work as law enforcement or prison security. It’s kinda important that our peacekeepers and law enforcement recognize that everyone: suspects, inmates, detainees and bystanders alike, have rights, have lives and deserve respect (even when they’re obnoxious and don’t give it.)

If these officers favor an enemy they can demonize and shoot at, they can join a private military contractor. Many are hiring and they pay better!

Work that involves state agents having the power of life and death over other human beings requires a mettle of employee that should be held to a higher standard of conduct. And that includes believing that the people detained, the people suspected, the people protected are all human beings with lives and rights.

Agammamonsays:

"The "10-15 Group," named for the Border Patrol code for "aliens in custody,""

Its not Border Patrol specific. And it doesn’t mean ‘alien in custody’.

Its the 10-code for ‘Prisoner in custody’.

10-codes (APCO Project 14 Aural Brevity Code) have been in use by police and security companies – and civilian band radio operators – since the 1930’s.

ECAsays:

AND??

Frail is the person, that cant stand up and declare themselves, for fear of being ridiculed..

Its interesting in history, that Certain White persons, tend to think…
Blacks, Chinese, Irish, Mexican,…and every other race in this nation, DID NOTHING.
But they have faught in every war, they became the farmers, they became the Low paid workers in many cities.

Is there 1 nation that has Never entered the USA, in the past?

Anonymoussays:

Free speech is still free

While I agree that these posts are horrible and the people are bigots, this still falls into free speech territory. Keep in mind that this was a private group with no official sanctions by CBP.

I would rather we live in a world of free speech, it makes it so much easier to spot the assholes.

Uriel-238says:

Free speech

Obligatory.

Free speech means one doesn’t go to jail for speaking his (her) mind. But free speech may indicate he is not suitable for specific roles in society, or specific jobs. Case in point: Justice Brett Kavanaugh‘s response to Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations, which, while not illegal certainly did demonstrate he did not have character suitable for a bench on the highest court in the land.

An officer needs to conduct himself with a consistent respectful regard no matter who he’s (she’s) encountering, no matter what characteristics they have that he favors / disfavors. And given our officers are not being held to this standard, their candid speech in these forums correlates with their poor conduct on duty.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Free speech

Nothing you said takes away from the fact that they can say this kind of stuff. Hell, they could have said it in public if they wanted, but we know they never would have done that because of the repercussions.

Please re-read my last sentence:

"I would rather we live in a world of free speech, it makes it so much easier to spot the assholes."

Without the ability for these people to say this freely, we would not have the proof they existed and without that proof there could not be repercussions.

I think there is/was fear on the part of the CBP admin to go after people like this because:

  1. they are most likely union
  2. there would most likely be an ugly legal battle that hinged its argument on:
    a. free speech
    b. firing or punishing an employee is a form of suppression of speech.

But now that it is open and out in the public it will make it easier to bring said repercussions.

Uriel-238says:

Re:

Sir Kim Darroch was dismissed by the United States today for non-vulgar criticisms of the President of the United States. If an ambassador’s leaked candid assessments of a statesman can be cause to discharge him, then certainly the blatant racism and dehumanization expressed by officers of the law can be used to discharge them, yes?

It won’t be, because ours is society that rules by power, not justice, not law, not consent of the people. Not consistency of policy.

That One Guysays:

Re: Re:

If an ambassador’s leaked candid assessments of a statesman can be cause to discharge him, then certainly the blatant racism and dehumanization expressed by officers of the law can be used to discharge them, yes?

Oh not at all, he criticized someone in power, and that simply will not stand. These assholes on the other hand criticized and mocked the powerless, and barring some finger wagging and in the ‘worst case scenario’ throwing some minor employee under the bus that is given a pass and ignored.

Uriel-238says:

That is the world we live in

[Darroch] criticized someone in power, and that simply will not stand. These assholes on the other hand criticized and mocked the powerless, and…that is given a pass and ignored.

That is, yes, the world we live in.

But It’s not the world I want to live in, and I’m pretty sure it’s not the world our Constitutional framers hoped for when they established the United States as an independent state.

Failing to calling tyranny for what it is does a disservice to the ideals of democracy and rule of law we once strived for.

Uriel-238says:

"NOT covered by the first amendment"

The first amendment is a restriction on congress. Freedom of speech (that is, from suppression or prosecution by the United States) in the US has been established by legal precedent to extend to foreign nationals, especially regarding political speech critical of the United States.

But it speaks to the ethical integrity of the CBP that not only its officers share such bigotry online, but the response by its administration is (essentially) boys will be boys.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Other than the 1st amendment, pray tell which law, regulation, ordinance, treaty, or agreement might stand in the way of an otherwise lawful request to remove a person from an embassy?

You may want to study up on logical fallacies, including the so-called straw man argument before answering.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Let me help you, here is the original comment:

Sir Kim Darroch was dismissed by the United States today for non-vulgar criticisms of the President of the United States. If an ambassador’s leaked candid assessments of a statesman can be cause to discharge him, then certainly the blatant racism and dehumanization expressed by officers of the law can be used to discharge them, yes?

It won’t be, because ours is society that rules by power, not justice, not law, not consent of the people. Not consistency of policy.

Nowhere in that comment did the author, Uriel-238, make any reference to the 1st amendment.

Now here is a reply:

Mr. Darroch is a citizen of the UK AND his work place is sovereign British
soil (i.e., the British Embassy). His comments are NOT covered by the first amendment. Good try, but try harder next time.

So, you are trying to make an argument about "His comments are NOT covered by the first amendment," but nowhere in the the original comment, the one to which you replied, mentions the 1A.

So, yes, nice straw man you have there, better try harder next time.

Uriel-238says:

Lawful request to oust

Law isn’t really involved in either case. In one, the State Department decided Sir Darroch will not be recognized by the United States, thereby rendering him unusable as an emissary to the US. The conversation isn’t about whether it’s illegal (it obviously entirely lawful for Darroch to report as he did, and for the US to respond as it pleases the President). The conversation is about whether it’s appropriate for the a nation to retaliate about leaked assessments of its state leaders. Given descriptive, critical assessment of colleagues is an explicit part of the job, and Darroch didn’t exceed this duty to give derisive opinions, I’d think not, and the fact that there was any action at all on behalf of the United States speaks volumes about its lack of self-esteem.

In the other situation, comments of many officers of the CBP expressing how they felt regarding their detainees and suspects that were shared and exchanged in a Facebook forum were made public. The comments demonstrated a lot of derision and contempt on part of the officers involved. Again, the speech is entirely legal, but in a well regulated law enforcement department, the opinions express raise questions as to the capability of those officers to conduct themselves appropriately on duty. Given other revelations during the Trump administration regarding brutal conduct, stories of abuse and defiance of policy, it’s a germane concern.

And then their superiors condoned such attitudes as routine and commonplace, which implies these sentiments and malconduct are pervasive throughout the department, perhaps even throughout the entire DHS.

Uriel-238says:

Re: Re: Lawful request to oust

I’m not sure your point. Is this whataboutism? This looks like its related to Tu quoque or something. digitari are you trying to suggest that we might be less outraged by bad conduct and correlating racism in the CBP based on whose administration it’s under?

Maybe you can elaborate how one relates to the other, digitari.

TechDirt has a long, long history of criticizing the FBI for it’s misconduct, of policy inconsistencies, of being nice to VIPs and being brutal with whistleblowers during the Obama administration (while Obama promised to provide more protections for whistleblowers.) It’s even criticized the FBI’s involvement with the Playpen website (to the point it spent two weeks disseminating child porn and malware). So no, there’s no love for the FBI around here, nor is there faith that it can adequately investigate Trump (or would want to, for that matter).

TD also has a long history of recognizing the abusive practices of ICE and the CBP during the Obama administration. I learned about the Ashley Cervantes incident from here. Whether the CBP is treating migrants cruelly, shooting at people for the joy of murder or robbing them under the color of law via asset forfeiture, the CBP has demonstrated itself to be a corrupt agency through and through.

ICE is even more corrupt than the CBP, but that was evident after the raid of Kim Dotcom’s residence. I suspect Trump took favor to ICE because they hunt down brown people inside the states and speak the same language as he does.

Trump didn’t start the fire that was racism in the US. The Michael Brown shooting and Ferguson Unrest did a lot to uncover just how awful shit is here in the States. Trump just gave the public permission by example to express it openly. And he gives the CBP and ICE carte blanche to treat human beings as subhumans, because that’s how Trump (and his buddy, Miller) regard them. And yeah, I’m pretty sure we’re going to have a mass purge on our hands if it’s not already happening.

The (illegal, yet who-gives-a-fuck?) overcrowding of the detention centers is a new phenomenon, but abuse isn’t. Then-sheriff Joe Arpaio was kidnapping immigrants and throwing them into his own detention camps long before Trump. Trump just happened to think Arpaio’s methods were a good idea. But the recent revelations aren’t the first report of systemic abuse in the detention centers.

The misery at our detention centers are as well known as the epidemic of rape in US prisons. It’s just nobody cares. All those victims are still detained despite the revelations. The United States of America stands silent while thousands suffer under its refuge and the detention centers themselves break the law. This is the true face of the United States.

Anonymoussays:

Look Any company with 1000,s of employee,s ,
there will be people who are racist, sexist , rude and stupid. its human nature .
See how the tsa treats the public ,some of who are rich and famous.
in an airport a public place, they can be very rude and discourteous .
Theres probably some of border control agents who are latino,or black or from various minority groups .

That One Guysays:

'Not the finger wag, anything but the finger wag!'

In 2018, a senior official warned all agency employees of potential discipline, after having been informed of a private Facebook group with inappropriate and offensive posts, according to a memo obtained by CNN.

Oh noes, potential discipline, that’s certainly a fate worse than the death, knowing that the higher-ups might, at some point, think about maybe handing out some penalties for deplorable behavior.

Honestly with a threat like that hanging over their heads it’s no wonder they all immediately stopped being world-class assholes and-

Customs and Border Protection officials have been aware for up to three years that a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents was posting offensive messages ? far longer than previously reported.

… huh, why it’s almost as though threats that both management and the grunts know are utterly empty don’t actually do anything. Imagine that.

Anonymoussays:

Re: They have 20,000 employees

They have 20,000 employees

If only 5 percent of them are pieces of garbage, they are beating the national average.

I think you need to go back to math class.

Taking your number of 20,000 employees, 9,500 group members is much closer to 50% than 5%.

So now you have shown yourself to be a liar, and that you don’t understand basic grade school math. Why are you still here?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: They have 20,000 employees

your math may be incorrect as well, unless you have proof all 9,500 are CBP members.

But please do go on with your baseless accustions, your quite good at it

Doesn’t matter if they are baseless or not, the whole point of comment was that his math was wrong you fucking idiot!

But hey, nice strawman you have there.

Digitarisays:

timing

Of course this private page only started 2 years ago right?

none of this happened during Obama’s watch right?

Cause no one was a Bigot or racist when Obama was in Office

Just like the kids in cages photos weren’t on Obama’s watch ( they were )

Funny how all this comes out when someone says they want all this too stop

(Drain the swamp) but not when we have "the most transparent administration ever" that "didn’t have a smidgen of corruption"

things that make you go Hmmmm

it’s not like they are child sex offenders……..

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