Border Patrol agents disciplined over offensive Facebook posts

The head of Homeland Security said agents were put on "administrative duties."

July 7, 2019, 11:56 AM

The Department of Homeland Security has disciplined federal agents who posted offensive and sexually degrading content about Central American migrants and Democratic lawmakers on social media, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told ABC's "This Week."

Multiple agents were put on "administrative duties" and others were issued letters warning them to stop the conduct, McAleenan said on Sunday. An internal investigation continues, he added.

"The agents will be held accountable if they are CBP employees who did inappropriate things. I don't think it's reflective of the men and women we have," McAleenan said.

CBP officials acknowledged on Friday that the department was aware of "inappropriate and offensive posts" by personnel as far back as February 2018. McAleenan told "This Week" Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday that he was not aware of the recent posts until reports surfaced this week.

PHOTO: Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan speaks during a news conference in Washington, June 28, 2019.
Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan speaks during a news conference in Washington, June 28, 2019.
Carolyn Kaster/AP

The nonprofit news organization ProPublica obtained access to one secret Facebook group called "I'm 10-15," which is the Border Patrol code used to announce an unauthorized immigrant has been taken into custody.

The page, which reportedly included current and former CBP agents, contained sexually degrading posts aimed at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-.N.Y. Edited images posted in the group appeared to show Ocasio-Cortez being forced to perform oral sex.

Reporting on the Facebook group led to calls for an immediate investigation by Democratic lawmakers. Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairman Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, called the posts "disgusting and vile."

"I expect a Congressional investigation," Castro said this week.

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost called the posts "completely inappropriate" and said they were "contrary to the honor and integrity I see -- and expect -- from our agents day in and day out."

"Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable," Provost stated.

On "This Week," McAleenan said that the CPB had provided guidance regarding social media to employees in the past.

"Actually we did put out a policy on being careful on social media, the responsibility to maintain your standards and apply with a code of conduct even in your private life, even in your personal views," McAleenan said.

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