Sixty Border Patrol agents were found to have committed misconduct by posting “explicit and violent messages” mocking migrants and threatening lawmakers on Facebook — but only two were actually fired, investigators said Monday.
A sweeping investigation by the House Oversight and Reform Committee found that the majority of agents had their punishments significantly reduced after it emerged that they’d posted photos and comments in a closed Facebook group back in 2019.
Despite an internal Customs and Border Patrol Discipline Review Board recommending that 24 of the 60 agents be fired, only two were ultimately terminated, according to the report.
Twelve of the agents got written reprimands and 43 others were suspended without pay, investigators said.
Fifty-seven of the agents who were part of the investigation are still working with migrants today.
Investigators examined 135 cases of alleged misconduct after the existence of the private Facebook group named “I’m 10-15” — which is Border Patrol code for migrants in custody — emerged in July 2019.
One of the agents who was fired had posted an image of Pepe the Frog — a “symbol of alt-right and white supremacy” — and a doctored image of President Biden touching Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, according to the report.
The other fired agent posted homophobic memes and a doctored image of President Trump sexually assaulting a member of Congress.
The investigation didn’t disclose the identity of the lawmaker, but Ocasio-Cortez had previously revealed she was depicted being raped in a Border Patrol Facebook group.
Meanwhile, investigators found that a Border Patrol supervisor who posted an internal video of a migrant falling off a cliff to their death had his discipline reduced from removal to a suspension.
Another agent was allowed to retire with full benefits — instead of being fired — after he posted a photo of a drowned father and child, referring to them as “floaters.”
“The vile, racist and sexist behavior of border patrol agents exposed in the ‘I’m 10-15’ Facebook group was disgraceful and deserved severe discipline,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
“It is unacceptable that the vast majority of these agents faced reduced punishment and were allowed to continue working with migrants.”
The report found CBP knew about the inappropriate posts as far back as 2016 but failed to take action.
Investigators blamed weaknesses in the agency’s disciplinary process for failing to hold the agents accountable.