US Border Patrol investigate ‘disturbing’ secret Facebook group

Media caption‘No woman should be locked up in a pen’

US officials are investigating a secret Facebook group where border patrol members allegedly posted racist and sexist jokes about migrants.

The private group had about 9,500 members, including former and current border patrol agents, ProPublica reported.

Some posts mocked migrant deaths, while others targeted Latino members of Congress, ProPublica said.

The Border Patrol chief has called the posts “completely inappropriate”.

“Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable,” Carla Provost said.

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The group was called “I’m 10-15”, ProPublica said – 10-15 being Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody”.

According to ProPublica, members of the group mocked Latino members of Congress who visited migrant detention centres in Texas on Monday.

Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Veronica Escobar were among those said to be targeted, with members calling them “hoes” and “scum buckets”.

In one post, a member reportedly suggested throwing burritos at them, while another depicted a doctored image that showed Ms Ocasio-Cortez performing a sex act.

The BBC was not able to independently verify the existence of the private group, which is not publicly accessible on Facebook.

Matthew Klein, an assistant commissioner at the CBP, said the Department of Homeland Security has launched an investigation into the group, which violated the agency’s code of conduct.

He said a number of CBP agents may be members of the group, without elaborating on their roles.

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Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus were heckled as they visited detention facilities

Ms Ocasio-Cortez said the posts did not surprise her, saying it was “indicative” of what she saw while visiting migrant detention centres on Monday.

On Twitter, she claimed that border patrol officers had told women in cells to “drink out of the toilets”.

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“I see why CBP officers were being so physically and sexually threatening towards me,” she tweeted after the trip.

The CBP has not officially responded to her comments.

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However, a DHS official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Washington Post that drinking water was available, and no border agent would force migrants to drink from a toilet.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez and other lawmakers toured detention centres days after a harrowing picture of a drowned man and his daughter in the Rio Grande brought the migration crisis into sharp focus.

Media captionRio Grande drowning: ‘I knew it was the last time I would see my son’

Since taking office in 2017, US President Donald Trump had adopted tougher policies in an attempt to reduce the number of undocumented migrants.

Earlier this month, Mexico reached a deal with the Trump administration to try to stem the flow of undocumented migrants travelling to the US.

Since then, deportations and detentions of undocumented migrants have reportedly increased.

In February, Mr Trump declared an emergency on the country’s southern border, saying it was necessary to tackle what he said was a crisis there.

Last week, the US Congress approved a $4.5bn (£3.5bn) humanitarian aid package for the US-Mexico border.