Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Clapped Back at the Secret Border Patrol Facebook Group by Actually Visiting the Border
After ProPublica exposed a not-so-secret Border Patrol Facebook Group, which was filled with racist and misogynistic language about migrants, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez didn't just sit back and tweet out her responses to the Facebook posts — she took action and actually went to see the border crisis firsthand at a detention center in El Paso, Texas, and potentially the Border Patrol officers in that Facebook group.
The group, which is called "I'm 10-15," in reference to the Border Patrol code for "aliens in custody," has about 9,500 members from all over the country. Members use the group to share gifs joking about the death of migrants, ridicule the conditions that the migrants live in, and to post photo manipulations showing AOC engaging in oral sex with the president. Ocasio-Cortez didn't waste any time after the report was published, gathering a group of congresspeople to see the conditions for themselves and to face the Border Patrol.
What she and the others found was exactly what many other reports claimed: Awful conditions, overcrowding, and guards who mistreated the men, women, and children being held at the border. CNN's Renato Mariotti even reported that detainees had to sleep standing up because there wasn't enough room for everyone.
AOC spoke with the people being held and witnessed the guards on "good behavior," but what she saw were women drinking out of toilets, people who hadn't showered or bathed for 15 days, and what the women in the cells called "psychological warfare."
Congresswoman Madeleine Dean confirmed AOC's reports, sharing many of the same terrifying things. She added that the group of congresspeople was met with hostility from the guards. She wrote that it was a "human rights crisis."
"These comments and memes are extremely troubling," Daniel Martinez, a sociologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, told ProPublica about the comments being circulated on Facebook. "They're clearly xenophobic and sexist." He added that it seems to be systemic, not just a few isolated people who are particularly vocal online. It "seems to be a pervasive culture of cruelty aimed at immigrants within CBP. This isn't just a few rogue agents or 'bad apples.'" In addition to sexual content, posts are violent in nature, with posters encouraging other members to harm visiting congresspeople.
Vicki Gaubeca, the director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, noted that the secret Facebook group was just more evidence of the sexism and misogyny associated with the Border Patrol. "That's why they're the worst at recruiting women," she told ProPublica. "They have the lowest percentage of female agents or officers of any federal law enforcement agency."
After visiting the border, Ocasio-Cortez and the other representatives went to Clint, the site of another Border Patrol center with reports of children being treated like animals.
Congressman Joe Kennedy III told Vice that after seeing so many awful things, the whole situation was going "off the rails." He adds that there's little trust between Border Patrol and the public, noting that the breakdown in trust is an important thing to rectify as soon as possible.