Just days after being publicly attacked by President Trump, Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez confronted the acting head of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan about his knowledge of a secret Facebook group creating photoshopped memes of her “violent rape” during a House Oversight Committee session on Thursday. McAleenan was being questioned before the committee to testify regarding his involvement in separating migrant children from their families at the southern U.S. border.
Ocasio-Cortez asked McAleenan whether he knew about the secret group of more than 10,000 former and current border patrol agents and the vicious memes which seem to threaten Democratic lawmakers then segued into questioning whether these agents were still employed by his agency.
Back to business.
Today I questioned Acting DHS Sec McAleenan on reports that Trump offered him a pardon if he violated US law to block asylum seekers, & whether those in the CBP group who threatened Members of Congress & shared rape images are still in charge of women+children. https://t.co/FzA4kp9xJR
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 18, 2019
“Did you see the posts planning physical harm to myself and Congresswoman Escobar?” Ocasio-Cortez asked. “Did you see the images of officers circulating photoshop images of my violent rape?”
“Yes I did,” McAleenan answered.
The Facebook group was exposed in a ProPublica report and McAleenan claims that when he saw the article he initiated a Homeland Security investigation into the group, but he declined to directly answer whether or not agents involved are still on the job. McAleenan did assert that some agents have been put on administrative leave and that cease and desist orders have been served, but says that he doesn’t know which posts correspond to which members.
Though the hearing was not about the actions of the Facebook group, AOC used their actions to highlight the apparent lack of oversight regarding the character of individuals who are “responsible for the safety of migrant women and children,” later suggesting that a “dehumanizing culture” exists within Customs and Border Protection.
McAleenan defended the organization and stated, “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,” which he called “inexcusable.”
Although some critics have been quick to criticize AOC for being too sensitive about the rape memes, many believe her tactic of calling out the poor character of the people responsible for our borders may be effective at inciting change.