July 11, 2019

Feinstein Calls on DHS to Investigate Agents’ Offensive Social Media Posts

 Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) yesterday sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Acting Inspector General Jennifer Costello, urging an investigation into reports that Border Patrol agents published vulgar and offensive social media posts about deceased migrants and female lawmakers.

            “I write to urge your office to investigate reports that Border Patrol agents participated in vulgar, abusive, xenophobic, and sexist social media posts. Whether they are on-the-line or off-duty, all Department of Homeland Security employees must understand that ‘public service is a public trust,’” wrote Senator Feinstein.

            “The postings reported in ProPublica last week included posts belittling children who have died at the border and threatening sexual abuse of female lawmakers. This behavior disparages not only our humanity as Americans, but the patriotism and bravery of the many Border Patrol agents who serve our country with integrity and loyalty and prescribe to ethical standards of respect, kindness, and empathy.”

            Full text of the letter is available below.

July 10, 2019

The Honorable Jennifer L. Costello
Acting Inspector General
United States Department of Homeland Security
Office of the Inspector General
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Ms. Costello,

            I write to urge your office to investigate reports that Border Patrol Agents participated in vulgar, abusive, xenophobic, and sexist social media posts.

            The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Standards of Conduct state that CBP employees must at all times reflect “a standard of personal behavior that reflects positively upon, and will be a credit to, both CBP and its employees.”  Certain conduct, whether on or off-duty, is expressly prohibited. Of particular relevance here, the Standards of Conduct ban “bias-motivated conduct,” including “abusive, derisive, profane, or harassing statements” or other conduct that expresses prejudice or hatred on the basis of race, national origin, or sex. Whether they are on-the-line or off-duty, all Department of Homeland Security employees must understand that “public service is a public trust.”

            The postings reported in ProPublica last week included posts belittling children who have died at the border and threatening sexual abuse of female lawmakers. This behavior disparages not only our humanity as Americans, but the patriotism and bravery of the many Border Patrol agents who serve our country with integrity and loyalty and prescribe to ethical standards of respect, kindness, and empathy.

            I understand that CBP is conducting an internal investigation and has also referred this matter to your office. I ask that you confirm that you have opened an investigation and explain the scope of your review. I also ask that you investigate whether DHS and CBP have systems in place for uncovering and addressing this type of misconduct going forward.

            Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

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