Committee Report Reveals CBP Reduced Discipline for Dozens of Agents and Allowed Them to Continue Working with Migrants Despite Violent and Offensive Facebook Posts

Oct 25, 2021
Press Release
CBP Officials Knew About Secret Facebook Group Since 2016 but Failed to Take Action

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 25, 2021)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, released a new staff report entitled, Border Patrol Agents in Secret Facebook Group Faced Few Consequences for Misconduct, showing that most Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents who committed misconduct on the “I’m 10-15” secret Facebook page had their discipline significantly reduced and continue to work with migrants.

 

“I am deeply troubled by CBP’s broken disciplinary process that allowed for significant reductions in discipline and allowed agents to resume work with migrants and children after engaging in serious misconduct,” said Chairwoman Maloney.  “CBP’s failure to prevent these violent and offensive statements by its own agents or impose adequate discipline creates a serious risk that this behavior will continue.  As we saw with the mistreatment of migrants by Border Patrol agents in Del Rio, Texas last month, systemic behavior problems within CBP persist.  CBP must take immediate steps to reform its disciplinary processes, strengthen social media policies and training, and address longstanding issues of poor morale within its ranks.”

 

“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 Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), 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 late Chairman Cummings would often remind us at moments like these that 'we are better than this!'  I am grateful to Chairwoman Maloney for carrying on this effort and reforming the broken system that created and condoned this behavior."

 

Documents and information obtained by the Committee show that CBP determined that 60 Border Patrol agents engaged in misconduct related to secret Facebook groups during the Trump Administration, and were subject to discipline.  However, CBP significantly reduced the punishments imposed on most of these agents.  For example:

 

  • A Border Patrol agent who posted a sexually explicit doctored image and derogatory comments about a Member of Congress had his discipline reduced from removal to a 60-day suspension and was awarded back pay.

 

  • A Border Patrol supervisor who improperly posted an internal CBP video of a migrant falling off a cliff to their death, as well as an explicit and offensive comment about a Member of Congress, had his discipline reduced from removal to a 30-day suspension. 

 

  • A Border Patrol agent with a history of multiple infractions was allowed to retire with disability benefits rather than face removal or any other discipline after he posted a photograph of a drowned father and child and referred derisively to them as “floaters.”

 

These outcomes were the result of a number of failings at CBP.  Below are the some of the findings from the Committee’s investigation:

 

  • At least 60 Border Patrol agents committed misconduct related to secret Facebook group during the Trump Administration.

 

  • Most of the 60 agents who committed misconduct received reduced penalties, and 57 agents continue to work with migrants today.

 

  • CBP knew about Border Patrol agents’ inappropriate posts on “I’m 10-15” since 2016, three years before it was reported publicly. 

 

  • Weaknesses in CBP’s disciplinary process hampered its ability to hold Border Patrol agents accountable. 

 

The racist and sexually violent images and comments on the “I’m 10-15” Facebook group undermine the work carried out by dedicated CBP employees every day.  Today’s staff report makes several recommendations to improve CBP’s policies, training, and disciplinary process to address these issues.

 

In July 2019, the late Chairman Elijah E. Cummings requested documents from CBP following alarming reports of CBP employees posting racist, sexist, and xenophobic content in secret Facebook groups.  The most prominent of these groups, a private group for Border Patrol agents called “I’m 10-15,” had more than 9,500 members in July 2019.  After the Trump Administration obstructed this inquiry and shielded agents who engaged in racist and sexist Facebook groups, Chairwoman Maloney announced her intent to issue a subpoena to CBP, which was issued in November 2020. 

 

Click here to read the Committee staff web report and here to read the pdf version.

 

Click here to review a one-pager in Spanish summarizing the report.

 

###

117th Congress