WASHINGTON (CN) – Vulgar comments made on Facebook by Customs and Border Patrol agents about Democratic lawmakers and immigrants prompted the Department of Homeland Security to open an investigation Wednesday into agents’ social media activity.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan announced the launch of the probe on Twitter, stating that recent reporting by investigative news outlet ProPublica highlighted “disturbing and inexcusable social media activity” in a private Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents.
“Any employee found to have compromised the public trust in our law enforcement mission will be held accountable,” McAleenan tweeted Wednesday morning. “They do not represent the men and women of the Border Patrol or @DHSgov.”
The Facebook group, known as “I’m 10-15”- a reference to a Customs and Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody” – included a litany of graphic conversations and callous images.
One post featured a manipulated photo of sitting Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., appearing to be forced to perform oral sex on President Donald Trump.
According to ProPublica, the comment below the explicit image, allegedly authored by a current Border Patrol agent read: “That’s right bitches. The masses have spoken and today democracy won. I have returned. To everyone who knows the real me and had my back, I say thank you. To everyone else, this is what I have to say.”
Some members of the group appeared to poke fun at immigrants, making light of those who have died in their attempt to cross the southern border of the United States or while in detention. Others allegedly suggested throwing burritos at Representative Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, and Ocasio-Cortez during their Monday visit to a Border Patrol facility near El Paso.
Other posts referred to the two lawmakers as “bitches,” “hoes” and “scum buckets.” More graphic memes, again targeting Ocasio-Cortez, also featured the lawmaker performing oral sex at an immigrant detention center.
A day before McAleenan’s announcement of the Homeland Security investigation into the agents’ social media activity, the House Oversight Committee announced Tuesday that McAleenan and Acting Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Mark Morgan will testify before Congress. The July 12 hearing will focus on the inhumane conditions found at immigrant detention centers.
On Monday, not long after the ProPublica expose revealing the social media posts was published, Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost announced that her department was launching its own investigation in conjunction with the department’s inspector general.
“Employees will not make abusive, derisive, profane or harassing statements or gestures, or engage in any other conduct evidencing hatred or invidious prejudice to or about one person or group on account of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability,” Provost said.
A representative from the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to request for comment Wednesday.