Members of New York’s Congressional delegation assembled in Foley Square on Tuesday to slam comments made by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents on Facebook.
On Mon., July 1st, a ProPublica report detailed a secret, three-year-old Facebook group for current and former CBP agents, consisting of 9,500 members.
The report shared posts from the group, where agents joked about the deaths of migrants and discussed throwing burritos at Latina members of Congress, whom they referred to as “scum buckets” and “hoes.”
“The agents talking about ‘throwing burritos’ at U.S. Representatives are the same agents that are supposed to be caring for the most vulnerable migrants – pregnant women, families and children!” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, who called the actions “disgraceful.”
“Tell me how the inhumane treatment is not connected one more time!” she added.
The ProPublica article was released the same day that 14 Democratic members of Congress, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, visited a Texas CBP facility and accused the agents of holding women and children in inhumane conditions.
On Tuesday, U.S. Representatives Velázquez, Hakeem Jeffries, Carolyn Maloney, Yvette Clarke, Max Rose and Jerrold Nadler held a press conference to denounce the comments of the agents.
“These are not actions of anyone who should wear the uniform of the United States,” said Velázquez, who called for the agents to be fired.
“If these so-called agents could use such vile, racist and sexually offensive language towards two sitting members of Congress, just think how they treat those undocumented immigrants who are in a vulnerable state along the border,” Jeffries said. “Every single American should shudder at that thought.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who said agents at the Texas facility were “openly disrespectful” during the Congressional tour, was critical of the Facebook group on Twitter: “9,500 CBP officers sharing memes about dead migrants and discussing violence and sexual misconduct towards members of Congress. How on earth can CBP’s culture be trusted to care for refugees humanely?”
In response, Matthew Klein, who heads the CBP’s Internal Affairs Unit, issued a statement that the agency would be conducting a formal investigation.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection was made aware of disturbing social media activity hosted on a private Facebook group that may include a number of CBP employees,” said Klein.