U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say that 62 current and eight former Border Patrol employees are under internal investigation after revelations of a secret Facebook group that mocked lawmakers and immigrants, reports the Associated Press. Most are under investigation for posts in a secret group called “I’m 10-15,” where messages questioned the authenticity of images of an immigrant father and child dead on the banks of the Rio Grande, and depicted crude, doctored images of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) purporting to perform a sex act on President Donald Trump. Posts from at least one other closed group also under investigation.
“Messages posted on a private page that are discriminatory or harassing are not protected and violate standards of conduct,” said Matthew Klein of the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The potential punishment is based upon the severity of the misconduct, whether the employee has previously engaged in misconduct and whether there’s a direct tie to their employment. An agent could get counseling or get anything from a written reprimand to suspension, demotion or firing. ProPublica first posted details of the Facebook group, which boasts 9,500 members. The posts tarnished the Border Patrol’s image at one of the most challenging times in its 95-year history. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost said the posts were unacceptable. Provost may also have been a member at once point, though there is no indication she knew about the inflammatory posts. Klein said, “To be clear, the expectations of professional conduct don’t end at the end of a shift.” Not reporting misconduct is also considered misconduct. Investigator are working to determine who was active on the page and who knew about the posts. Since 2016, 80 others have been investigated for misconduct for social media posts.