On Wednesday, Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost testified in front of the House Appropriations subcommittee and claimed that she didn’t realize the racist Facebook group that she was in was so racist.
She was involved in the group to evaluate “how I am representing my workforce,” she told lawmakers at a hearing about oversight within Border Patrol. “I didn’t think anything of it at the time.”
Provost has been active in that particular Facebook group since at least last fall, according to images published by the Intercept, despite her asserts that she had no idea about posts with caustic remarks about the deaths of migrants, sexually explicit images and xenophobic comments.
Now, questions are being raised as to why Provost didn’t use her involvement in those Facebook groups to better understand problems in her department.
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“She either missed it from failure to effectively do her job or actively avoided thinking about it,” Josiah Heyman, director of the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso, told The Washington Post.
However, Provost defended Border Patrol, and insisted that the Facebook group in question, “I’m 10-15,” named after the law enforcement code for “aliens in custody,” was not indicative of widespread racism and xenophobia in the department.
She called offenders “a few bad apples” among about 20,000 agents. The group for current and former agents included about 9,500 members and other groups exist.
But Heyman disagreed with Provost and thinks there is a broader problem in Border Patrol. He led a survey of about 1,100 migrants deported to Mexico, and nearly a quarter of respondents said they were verbally abused by U.S. immigration agents, primarily Border Patrol members. Eleven percent reported physical abuse.
“The posts are very consistent with that we found,” Heyman said. It’s not just, ‘This person is out of status, and I need to apply law’ . . . but, ‘I hate this person, I want to humiliate this person.’”