July 02, 2019

US Border Patrol chief responds to lewd officer Facebook group, after reports of hostility from members of congress
The US Border Patrol has responded to reports that a Facebook group allegedly made up of past and present members was rampant with racist, sexist and xenophobic posts.In an interview with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, US Border Patrol Chief of Operations Brian Hastings said that “each one of these allegations will be thoroughly investigated”.On Monday, ProPublica reported that a closed Facebook group joined only by invitation contained roughly 9,500 members, thought to be current or past members of the US Border Patrol, which has 20,000 employees. But in his CNN interview, Chief Hastings maintained that the group’s lewd posts, which include comments dismissing deaths of migrants with jokes and photoshopped memes depicting sexual assault, represent the “actions of a few”.The reports of the group came just hours before Democratic representatives toured several Border Patrol facilities, where they found deeply troubling conditions, including women being told to drink out of toilets, and confessions that the facilities and detainees had been “cleaned up” for the visit, told, according to representatives, under distress and fear of consequences. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also told reporters that she herself felt “unsafe”, which her fellow representatives confirmed, describing hostility and intimidation from the guards at the facilities towards the touring members of congress. She has described CBP as a “a rogue agency”.When asked to respond to these incidents, Mr Hastings told CNN: "Ma'am, we are professionals. We are dealing with a crisis right now. Over 680,000 apprehensions so far this year. Agents are under a great deal of stress."He confirmed that Border Patrol was currently understaffed. According to their website, employees are required to have one year of “general work experience that shows you have the ability to take charge, make sound decisions, and maintain composure in stressful situations”.The qualifications also ask “that you can learn law enforcement regulations, methods and techniques through classroom training and/or on-the-job instruction; and you have the ability to gather factual information through questioning, observation, and examination of documents and records.” One year of work experience may be substituted for a “bachelor's degree or successful completion of a full 4-year course of study in any field leading to a bachelor's degree from an accredited or college or university”, or the intent to obtain one.The number one listed condition for employment as a Border Patrol agent is “firearm proficiency”. The website also claims that within the approximate “6 months of intensive instruction in immigration and nationality laws, law enforcement and Border Patrol-specific operations, drivers training, physical techniques, firearms, and other courses”, new agents will be “provided training to become proficient with the Spanish language”.There do not appear to be provisions for indigenous detainees who speak neither English nor Spanish, a point that was also brought to light by Representative Ocasio-Cortez following her visit.



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