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AOC decries ‘violent culture’ exposed in secret Border Patrol Facebook group

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. (Photo: Alex Brandon/AP)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. (Photo: Alex Brandon/AP)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sharply criticized the “violent culture” of U.S. Border Patrol agents Monday after a new report exposed a Facebook group where current and former agents joked about migrant deaths and posted sexist images of the New York congresswoman.

On Monday, ProPublica published messages from a Facebook group of roughly 9,500 Border Patrol agents named “I’m 10-15,” a reference to the agency’s code of “aliens in custody.” Among the messages were jokes about a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in Border Patrol custody in May and sexist references to Ocasio-Cortez, including illustrations of her performing oral sex on migrants and President .

The group, Ocasio-Cortez said, also suggested raising money for an agent to throw a burrito at her and Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat who represents the El Paso, Tex. Area. The two freshmen congresswomen are among a delegation visiting the border on Monday.

“This just broke: a secret Facebook group of 9,500 CBP officers discussed making a GoFundMe for officers to harm myself & Rep. Escobar during our visit to CBP facilities & mocked migrant deaths,” wrote Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter, linking to the story. “This isn’t about ‘a few bad eggs.’ This is a violent culture.”

“9,500 CBP officers sharing memes about dead migrants and discussing violence and sexual misconduct towards members of Congress,” added Ocasio-Cortez. “How on earth can CBP’s culture be trusted to care for refugees humanely? PS I have no plans to change my itinerary & will visit the CBP station today.”

In May, the Arizona Daily Star reported that a Border Patrol agent who is accused of knocking down a Guatemalan man with his vehicle allegedly sent text messages that included referring to migrants as “disgusting subhuman s--- unworthy of being kindling for a fire” and asking the White House “PLEASE let us take the gloves off !”

Ocasio-Cortez repeatedly made the point Monday that the views expressed by members of the secret Facebook group were indicative of 

CBP.

“There are 20,000 TOTAL Customs & Border Patrol agents in the US. 9,500 - almost HALF that number - are in a racist & sexually violent secret CBP Facebook group,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “They’re threatening violence on members of Congress. How do you think they’re treating caged children+families?”

Story continues

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Conditions at the border detention camps have continued to draw scrutiny. On Monday, NBC News reported that a Department of Homeland Security document revealed that agents were arming themselves out of fear of riots because the conditions were so bad. Over the weekend, a federal judge ordered that doctors be allowed into the child camps in order to ensure they’re “safe and sanitary” after multiple reports of young migrants being unable to shower, brush their teeth or wash their hands. Acting CBP chief John Sanders announced last week he was resigning, making no mention of the conditions at the facilities.

“It just felt, you know, lawless,” Dolly Lucio Sevier, a doctor who visited the centers, said in an interview with ABC News last week. “I mean, imagine your own children there. I can’t imagine my child being there and not being broken.”

In a call last week, a CBP official disputed the critical accounts and said the children housed there were given periodic access to showers and unlimited snacks.

“I personally don’t believe these allegations,” said the CBP official, who spoke on the condition he not be identified, according to the New York Times.

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