U.S. Customs and Border Protection in 2018. File Photo by Mani Albrecht/ U.S. Customs and Border Protection/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 25 (UPI) -- A U.S. House of Representatives agency found that over 130 Border Patrol agents who made bigoted posts against migrants in secret social media groups received reduced disciplinary measures.
An internal investigation launched in 2019 by the Committee on Oversight and Reform shows that a secret group called "I'm 10-15" had more than 9,500 members in July 2019 who took to the group to express job dissatisfaction among other things.
The committee said that the Trump administration blocked access to the group's records and that Customs and Border Protection began producing documents in February 2021.
"Documents obtained by the Committee show that although CBP was aware of misconduct on 'I'm 10-15' since August 2016, the agency took minimal action to strengthen social media training or guidance after the media began reporting on agents' misconduct and the Committee launched its investigation in 2019," the report stated.
Of the 135 employees the committee looked into, 60 agents were subjected to discipline. Of those, two were fired, 43 were suspended, 12 were given letters of reprimand, and three were issued other disciplinary action.
Some misconduct included a sexually explicit doctored image and derogatory comments about a member of Congress. The employee was given a suspension and given back pay. Another Border Patrol supervisor who posted a video of a migrant falling off a cliff to their death faced a 30-day suspension.
The committee said that the CBP had weaknesses in its disciplinary process to hold its employees accountable and that there is a lack of social media guidance and training given to agents.
The report also stated that CBP employees have low morale, causing them to post their frustrations on the Facebook group. Federal surveys have shown that employees view the agency as having a "poor organizational climate."
The committee recommended CBP leadership to demonstrate social media accountability, to provide social media training, screen applicants with records of discrimination, make disciplinary records available, and address issues of poor morale.