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Border agents should be fired for offensive Facebook posts, NYC House members say

Several Democratic members of New York City’s congressional delegation called Tuesday for the firing of Customs and Border Protection agents who joked on a private Facebook page about dead migrants and posted vulgar comments directed at lawmakers critical of agency practices. (Credit: Newsday / Matthew Chayes)

Several members of New York City’s congressional delegation called Tuesday for the firing of Customs and Border Protection agents who joked on a private Facebook page about dead migrants and also posted vulgar comments directed at lawmakers critical of agency practices.

Standing in front of screenshots from the Facebook group of about 9,500 current and former border agents, Democratic Reps. Yvette Clark, Hakeem Jeffries, Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler, Max Rose, and Nydia Velázquez assailed the posts as emblematic of a brutal bureaucracy that is out of control.

“Smoke them out of their holes, and remove them from that agency,” said Velásquez at a news conference in lower Manhattan’s Foley Square, across from the federal immigration agency’s local headquarters.

Customs and Border Protection officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

According to news reports, Carla Provost, the Border Patrol chief, called the posts “highly inappropriate and offensive” in an email to agents. Ombudsmen from the agency and its cabinet parent, the Department of Homeland Security, have begun probes of the posts, the reports said.

“The men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol are under immense pressure every day as you manage the crisis on our border,” Provost wrote in the email, according to the new accounts. “But let me be clear: There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of inappropriate behavior — on or off duty, publicly or privately.”

An article published Monday by ProPublica depicted agents discussing throwing burritos at Hispanic members of Congress who were visiting a detention facility and also included a posted cartoon depicting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx/Queens) engaged in a sex act with a detained immigrant.

Nadler, who is in charge of the House Judiciary Committee, said the comments could jeopardize a Border Patrol agent’s job — despite civil-service laws restricting how a federal employee can be fired.

“Someone who is in charge of custody of children and of other people and has expressed attitudes of racism and attitudes of contempt for the people they’re in charge of — I think you can make a very good case in a civil-service proceeding that person is disqualified from holding that position, because they’ve expressed attitudes incompatible with their job,” he said.

Jeffries said an investigation would determine how many agents had made posts meriting employment termination.

“I believe that the overwhelming majority of the American people are fundamentally good, and once we expose the behavior the dominoes will fall, and these agents will be held accountable,” he said.

The delegation also renewed criticism of the unsanitary conditions in which some migrants and their children, including those separated from each other, suspected of crossing into the United States without permission, are being held.

A record number of migrants crossed the Southern border in May — more than 144,000, the largest monthly total in 13 years.

President Donald Trump last week criticized Democratic presidential hopefuls who, during a debate, agreed that no migrants should be deported if they committed no other offense beyond illegal entry.

Asked whether such a person should be deported, Clark said Tuesday: “It’s not an either/or proposition. I know where you’re trying to go, and what I’m telling you is that I don’t see the construct that you’re trying to establish to do this questioning.”

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