The Trump administration is continuing to attract tough scrutiny for its behavior surrounding asylum seekers, including some thanks to the discovery of a secret Facebook group in which current and former border patrol agents shared material like images edited to look like a violent rape of progressive New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She confronted Department of Homeland Security chief Kevin McAleenan over the behavior during a Congressional hearing this week, but somehow — remarkably — he found it in himself to insist that despite that Facebook group maintaining some 10,000 members including the acting head of border patrol herself and surfacing alongside continued streams of reports of abuse of detainees, there’s supposedly no “dehumanizing” culture in the agencies he oversees. The lengths these people will go to defend themselves truly know no bounds.
Ocasio-Cortez asked McAleenan, pausing between each question to allow for response:
‘Did you see the posts mocking migrant children’s deaths? Did you see the posts planning physical harm to myself and Congresswoman Escobar? Did you see the images of officers circulating photoshopped images of my violent rape?’
Before the last question, McAleenan elaborated:
‘Yes, and I directed an investigation within minutes of reading the article.’
Considering the scope of the problem, however, kicking the issue down the road into some committee death trap isn’t enough. Ocasio-Cortez followed the above questions by asking whether the officers behind the imagery are “on the job today and responsible for the safety of migrant women and children,” and McAleenan had little to no straight answer, eventually getting to sharing that the agency has “already put individuals on administrative duties” while admitting he didn’t know “which ones correspond to which posts.”
After these exchanges, Ocasio-Cortez got to her questioning trying to uncover McAleenan’s take on the apparent dehumanizing culture inside the border patrol agencies, pointing to forcing them to take migrant children away from their families as one possible catalyst for that. Between 2007 and 2018, at least 100 border patrol officers have taken their own lives. McAleenan pointed to attempts at mental health support for employees but eventually got to his real, core assertion, putting out that “we do not have a dehumanizing culture” within border patrol — although the facts might tell a different story when examined closely.
Besides the massive Facebook group — which again, included Customs and Border Patrol head Carla Provost herself — there have been continued reports of inhumane conditions to which detained asylum seekers have been subjected to. People have been left in essentially standing room only conditions for days and weeks on end, without access to basic items like showers for long periods of time also in the weeks range. There has also been much more active abuse, from reports of sexual abuse to other forms of dehumanization, like targeting a gay man, who agents made wear a sign announcing his sexual orientation.
Leaders in the Trump administration have blamed problems on a supposed lack of adequate funding, but no amount of money can make up for an utter lack of basic human care for detained human beings.
Featured Image via screenshot