Border Patrol Chief Says She Didn't Know the Violent and Racist Facebook Group She Joined Was Bad

U.S. Border Patrol chief Carla Provost testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 24, 2019.
Photo: AP

The head of Border Patrol told lawmakers this week that she didn’t know the secret Facebook group she joined was bad. Carla Provost, who’s been leading the Border Patrol since April of 2017, said that the Facebook group’s racist and violent posts were “not indicative of the Border Patrol that I know.”

Provost testified in front of the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, where she was asked about a secret Facebook group called “I’m 10-15,” a reference to Border Patrol lingo for “an alien in custody.” The private Facebook group was first revealed by ProPublica on July 1 and the Border Patrol initially issued a statement denouncing it. But the Intercept later uncovered on July 12 that Provost herself was a member of the group and had even posted a comment.

Provost testified that a “colleague” invited her to the group and that she is “on Facebook very, very rarely.” Provost suggested that she was unaware of the violent imagery posted there, but no member of Congress at the hearing asked questions about the most horrifying graphics, including a photoshopped image of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being raped by President Donald Trump. Gizmodo has chosen not to reproduce the image but a censored version is available at ProPublica.

The Facebook group included news stories about detainees who have died while in U.S. custody and encouraged throwing burritos at Congresswomen of color who were visiting an American concentration camp.

“There should be no photo ops for these scum buckets,” one member of the Facebook group said, following another post that read, “fuck the hoes.” Others joked about the deaths of asylum seekers and some suggested that an Associated Press photo showing a father and daughter who had recently died had been staged by Democrats.

Provost testified that the people who posted in the group, which, again, included multiple racist comments and violent rape memes, were “a few bad apples,” within the organization. The Facebook group had roughly 9,500 current and former Border Patrol members from across the country. The Border Patrol staff is currently comprised of roughly 20,000 people.

Advertisement

“I am as outraged as everyone else when it comes to the statements that were made on that page,” Provost said. Strangely, Provost went on to compare her “bad apples” to those of other professions, and promised to hold her people accountable.

“There are bad doctors, there are bad nurses, there are bad teachers, but we don’t vilify the entire group of those individuals,” Provost said. “We need to take action on those who have violated our standards of conduct, and we need to hold them accountable, and we will do that.”

Advertisement

Provost failed to mention that nurses and teachers aren’t currently running a vast system of concentration camps on U.S. soil as the Department of Homeland Security currently does.

“Let me be clear, on July 1 was the first time I saw those highly offensive and absolutely unacceptable posts, when I saw them in the ProPublica report,” Provost claimed.

Advertisement

Provost says that she gave an auditor access to her Facebook account to look at her activity and verify that she was an infrequent user. And while that’s all well and good, the problem is that members of Border Patrol sometimes lie to Congress and all we have is her word on this issue. For example, Border Patrol’s Chief of Law Enforcement, Brian Hastings, testified this week that the 18-year-old that it detained for nearly a month in inhumane conditions never told them that he was an American. That appears to be a lie, based on documents obtained by the Dallas Morning News.

The teen who was detained, named Francisco Galicia, lost 26 pounds while he was in Border Patrol custody and was denied access to a lawyer. Galicia’s mother even presented his birth certificate, which officials said must be fake. He was later served with paperwork from the Department of Homeland Security that said he falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen, despite the fact that he was born in Dallas, Texas.

Advertisement

From the document, obtained by the Dallas Morning News:

On or about June 27, 2019, you were found at the Falfurrias, Texas, Border Patrol Checkpoint, a distance of more than 25 miles from the United States border with Mexico ... You did not receive the permission of an immigration officer to proceed beyond that 25 mile limit ... At that time, you falsely represented yourself to be a citizen of the United States for the purpose of furthering your entry into the United States.

Advertisement

Border Patrol and its broader parent organization, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, are perpetrating unimaginable cruelty at the border on a daily basis. Recently a 3-year-old Honduran girl was forced to choose between her parents as one of them was deported.

“The agent asked her who she wanted to go with, mom or dad,” the girl’s mother Tania told NPR recently. “And the girl, because she is more attached to me, she said mom. But when they started to take [my husband] away, the girl started to cry. The officer said, ‘You said [you want to go] with mom.’”

Advertisement
In this handout photo provided by the Office of Inspector General, overcrowding of families is observed by OIG at U.S. Border Patrol Weslaco Station on June 11, 2019, in Weslaco, Texas
Photo: DHS OIG/Getty Images

When Provost was asked on Wednesday about the separation of children from other family members, she said that it was the law. Historically, “I’m just following the law” has not been a valid defense of gross human rights abuses committed around the world.

Advertisement

“We do have many children that are either coming with other siblings, some are coming with other siblings that are minors, aunts, uncles,” Provost told the committee. “By law, I cannot keep those individuals together.”

There’s a misconception among the American public that family separation at the border has stopped after an outcry about parents and children who were forcefully pulled apart by the Trump regime. But families are still being broken up, as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings are regularly separated from kids. The media often refer to the kids who have been separated as “unaccompanied minors” despite the fact that they were not, in the strictest sense, actually unaccompanied at all. Toddlers don’t travel hundreds of miles by themself. They’re classified as “unaccompanied” because they traveled with someone who isn’t an immediate, blood-related parent.

Advertisement

The full 2-hour hearing with Provost about the crimes against humanity that she continues to perpetrate on American soil is available on YouTube.

Share This Story

About the author

Matt Novak

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog