Border Patrol chief addresses 'offensive' posts in online group

Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost appeared before a House subcommittee.

July 24, 2019, 6:04 PM

Carla Provost, U.S. Border Patrol chief, addressed questions about a controversial Facebook group that multiple Border Patrol agents were allegedly a part of and that she confirmed on Wednesday she had joined, but didn't routinely follow.

The secret Facebook group first uncovered by ProPublica reportedly "joked about the deaths of migrants, discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility in Texas," among other things, according to the ProPublica report.

ABC News previously reported that an internal memo indicated that agency officials were aware of at least one Facebook group in February 2018 that included "inappropriate and offensive posts."

However, on Wednesday during an appearance before a House Appropriations subcommittee, Provost said that the ProPublica story was the first she had heard of the "highly offensive and absolutely unacceptable posts."

Provost told lawmakers that she first signed up for Facebook in 2016, and then, in 2017, a colleague invited her to join some Facebook groups where they told her members would discuss how she was doing in her acting role.

PHOTO: U.S. Border Patrol chief Carla Provost testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill, July 24, 2019.
U.S. Border Patrol chief Carla Provost testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill, July 24, 2019.
Jose Luis Magana/AP

She said that she was interested in seeing how others thought she was representing her workforce, but went on to say that she rarely used the online platform.

Once she saw the July 1 report by ProPublica, Provost said she reported her affiliation with the group and offered access to her entire Facebook profile to the Office of Professional Responsibility.

"When I say that, I gave them my login and my password so they had full access to my account and they were able to go in and look at all of my activity over the three years that I have been a member of Facebook," Provost said.

According to Provost, in the office’s assessment, from June 2018-June 2019, the Border Patrol chief logged onto Facebook nine days over the year, and said that sometimes she would go months without logging on.

"I’m as outraged as everyone else when it comes to the statements that were made on that page," she said of the posts, adding that they are not indicative of the Border Patrol she knows.

She said the Border Patrol agents who she has worked with over the course of her career are "true civil servants and want to protect this nation."

Provost also said that the agency is working "diligently" on the investigations into the posts and said the agency has placed some individuals on administrative duties while the investigations are ongoing.

"A few bad apples are not representative of the organization," she said.

The Border Patrol has been under fire recently over conditions at some of its facilities and what Democrats call a toxic subculture.

At Wednesday’s Homeland Security subcommittee hearing, Provost defended the agency and said, "I personally disagree when it comes to a subculture in the Border Patrol."

"Honor first is the motto of Border Patrol and I hold that near and dear to my heart and it is extremely important to me that we deal with this issue, but I would still not call it a subculture," Provost told the subcommittee.

"The vast, vast majority -- 99-point-whatever percent of our men and women are good, hardworking American citizens who are doing the best they can in a very difficult crisis."

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events