Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezTop Missouri newspaper condemns GOP’s ‘shameful silence’ on Trump’s ‘racism’ Restaurant in city where Trump rally held donating profits to immigrants Crowd chanting ‘welcome home Ilhan’ greets Omar at airport MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday confronted acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan about a secret Facebook group in which Border Patrol agents shared racist and sexist content, including sexually graphic images of Ocasio-Cortez.
Their exchange during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing came weeks after ProPublica first reported on the Facebook group, containing about 9,500 members, in which posts targeting migrants and lawmakers were shared.
“Did you see the posts planning physical harm to myself and Congresswoman Escobar?” Ocasio-Cortez asked McAleenan, referring to Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Ocasio-Cortez defends being sworn in at hearing on conditions for migrants Live coverage: House Oversight examines Trump family separation policy MORE (D-Texas).
“Yes, and I directed an investigation within minutes of reading the article,” he replied.
“Did you see the images of officers circulating photoshopped images of my violent rape?” Ocasio-Cortez asked.
“Yes, I did,” McAleenan responded.
Asked by the congresswoman whether the officers responsible were on the job today, McAleenan said some had been put “on administrative duties,” but did not know which posts those officers made.
“We’ve already put individuals on administrative duties, I don’t know which ones correspond to which posts and we’ve issued cease and desist orders to dozens more,” he said, pointing to an ongoing “aggressive investigation.”
Ocasio-Cortez then asked if the Trump administration’s highly controversial family separation policy had led to a “dehumanizing culture” within Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
“We do not have a dehumanizing culture at CBP,” McAleenan said. “This is an agency that rescues 4,000 people a year.”
“So you don’t think that having 10,000 officers in a violent, racist group sharing rape memes of members of Congress points to any concern of a dehumanized culture?” Ocasio-Cortez followed up.
“Those posts are unacceptable,” he responded. “They’re being investigated. But I don’t think it’s fair to apply them to the entire organization or that even the members of that group believed or supported those posts.”
“Did you see the photoshopped images officers circulated of my violent rape?”@AOC confronted acting DHS Sec. Kevin McAleenan about why thousands of CBP officers belonged to a “racist and sexist” Facebook group pic.twitter.com/bS7w1BbpFH
— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) July 18, 2019
A post uncovered in the ProPublica report showed a depiction of Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant. Another had an illustration of President TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to ‘Send her back’ chants at Trump rally: ‘This is how history’s worst episodes begin’ McConnell: Trump ‘on to something’ with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts ‘corrupt’ Puerto Rico’s leaders amid political crisis MORE forcing the lawmaker’s head toward his crotch.
After the story broke, Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter that it showed “a violent culture” within the agency.
McAleenan faced stern questioning over the handling of migrant detention centers along the southern border following government reports of overcrowding and unsanitary and “dangerous” conditions.