CBP fires 4, suspends dozens over racist, violent Facebook groups
By Daniella Silva
Customs and Border Protection fired four employees and suspended more than three dozen others without pay after a year-long investigation into their involvement in Facebook groups featuring violent, sexist and racist posts against migrants and Latino members of Congress.
CBP said in a statement to NBC News on Friday that after an investigation into 138 cases of “inappropriate social media activity,” four employees were removed from service, 38 were suspended without pay, 33 were disciplined with reprimands or counseling and 63 of the allegations were unsubstantiated. The Los Angeles Times first reported news of the firings on Thursday.
As of July 15, six of the cases remain open, CBP said in the statement.
A year ago, officials initially announced 70 current and former CBP employees were under investigation for participating in a secret Facebook group in which users joked about dead migrants and made sexist, derogatory comments about Latino lawmakers.
The group, which at one point had roughly 9,500 members, shared comments about member of Congress, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, ProPublica reported last year. The group was called “I’m 10-15,” the code used by Border Patrol for migrants in custody.
Escobar said on Twitter the secret Facebook page mocked the deaths of migrants, “vulnerable people dehumanized by a broken system.”
She said she was one of the Latina members of Congress targeted by the “hateful attacks” in the group and never received the investigation results from the agency.
“The posts shouldn’t have just triggered firings but also an investigation into why other members never reported it,” she wrote in the post.
“Facebook is a cesspool,” she added.
Ocasio-Cortez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A CBP spokesperson confirmed the data in their statement represented investigations related to Facebook pages revealed last year.
Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-Texas, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement to NBC News, for “far too long, there has been a rancid culture and systemic problems within Customs and Border Protection.”
“Firing four border patrol officers for racist and sexist posts against immigrants and members of Congress is a step in the right direction to demonstrate that federal law enforcement agents cannot act with impunity,” he said in the statement.
Castro said the caucus would be requesting more information from the Department of Homeland Security, of which CBP is a part of, on why “so few individuals were terminated and held fully accountable.”