Chairwoman Maloney Issues Statement on IG Report Detailing CBP Senior Leaders’ Knowledge of Racist and Sexist Facebook Groups
Washington, D.C. (May 14, 2021)— Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued the following statement in response to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General entitled, “CBP Senior Leaders’ Handling of Social Media Misconduct”:
“Today’s report shows that ‘a pervasive culture in CBP’ led senior leadership to condone offensive comments by Border Patrol agents, underscoring the need for the Committee’s continued oversight of this issue. I am deeply troubled that the previous Administration may have allowed agents who posted racist and sexually violent material to continue working with vulnerable immigrants and children. The Inspector General’s report did not evaluate the discipline assessed against these employees, and the Oversight Committee is continuing to investigate this critical issue to ensure there is full accountability for this unacceptable behavior.”
Below are highlights from today’s Office of Inspector General report, which focused only on the knowledge and actions of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) leadership prior to public reporting in July 2019:
- The report described “a pervasive culture in CBP” that condoned actions where “boys will be boys.” In reference to trainings related to social media and workplace harassment, a CBP official said that “agents considered the training ‘window dressing,’ and treated it as a joke, because they believed the sector would not make changes to incorporate the policies being taught.”
- The report stated that “differing opinions and uncertainty about the legality of CBP policies could undermine CBP’s efforts to enforce the policies.” Some senior Border Patrol leaders “undermined” CBP and Border Patrol’s policies and guidance on prohibited discriminatory communication and inappropriate social media “by questioning their constitutionality or application.”
- The report stated: “If senior leaders communicate their personal opinions to employees, efforts to curb social media misconduct could be hindered.” The report noted that a “senior Border Patrol leader also disputed whether some of the posts that media outlets published in July 2019 were inappropriate” despite CBP’s Discipline Review Board recommending discipline in one of the cases specified by the senior Border Patrol leader.
This investigation was launched under Chairman Elijah Cummings in July 2019. On July 31, 2019, Chairman Cummings sent a letter to CBP requesting documents about secret Facebook groups containing offensive content posted by current and former Border Patrol agents.
On October 30, 2020, following stonewalling by the Trump Administration, Chairwoman Maloney circulated a memorandum informing Committee members of her intent to subpoena documents regarding these employees, their misconduct, and the disciplinary measures imposed.
On November 2, 2020, the Committee issued its subpoena. On January 11, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney sent a letter calling on CBP to fully comply with the Committee’s subpoena for documents relating to dozens of employees who participated in secret Facebook groups.