- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 31, 2019

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings sent a letter Wednesday asking Homeland Security to reveal when officials learned about secret Facebook groups frequented by Border Patrol agents where offensive messages were exchanged.

Customs and Border Protection, the agency that oversees the Border Patrol, is investigating dozens of agents, and some have already been relieved of law enforcement duties, officials told Congress last week.

But Mr. Cummings said he’s worried other offenders are still working with immigrants and children, despite their involvement with the Facebook group.

He asked for names and duties assigned for every CBP employee who is being investigated, and what has happened to them during the probe.

Mr. Cummings said he also needs an immediate briefing on the matter.

“The committee is investigating racist, sexist, and xenophobic comments relating to immigrants and members of Congress made by employees of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in ‘secret’ Facebook groups,” the chairman said.

The Facebook groups were first revealed in early July by ProPublica.

Among messages it found were ones mocking migrants who died attempting to jump the border, and ones belittling members of Congress such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was depicted in messages containing photos manipulated to appear as if she was being forced to perform sex acts.

The Homeland Security inspector general is already investigating to see if supervisors were aware of the Facebook groups and whether they failed to take action when necessary.

CBP’s own Office of Professional Responsibility is probing individual agents’ behavior.

But border officials rejected claims that they foster a “subculture” of intolerance or abuse.

“The vast, vast majority 99 point whatever percent of our men and women are good, hard-working American citizens who are doing the best they can in a very, very difficult crisis,” Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost told the House last week.

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