Anyone logging into Twitter today would’ve seen #ICEBae trending and found the image of Customs and Border Patrol agent Kiara Cervantes working security during Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to the border. The trending hashtag continues to gain momentum on Twitter and Cervantes even created an account as a response to her sudden virality. CBP agent Cervantes currently has over 37,000 followers.
Latinx Instagram account @xicanisma_ captioned their post about the #ICEBae trending saying, “I log on Twitter and see “ICEBAE” is trending… ?like… is this the reality we’re living in? Racists (also many MoC, per usual) literally thirsting over this [woman].”
The CBP agent, dubbed #ICEBae on social media, took to Twitter to confirm that she is, in fact, the woman in the viral selfie. “It’s me, I’m a customs officer based in Texas, and yeah, I don’t know what else to say,” she says in a video posted to Twitter.
“It’s crazy… but here I am,” she wrote in a tweet. “I’m hearing something about a viral picture. I would like to say I was just doing my job… providing security for the visit of @VP. It was an honor and I take a lot of pride in my job!”
She also responded to a couple of tweets criticizing her and the selfie she took.
For example, she replied to the former Daily Caller editor and columnist Scott Grier, saying, “Thank you for seeing how difficult my job can be… not only because I am Latina but just, in general, the mass amount of people crossing ILLEGALLY daily and the processing can take a toll on anyone of any gender and any race.”
Several media publications have reached out to her for comment but she responded that she wouldn’t talk to the press without first speaking with her employer.
As quickly as #ICEBae began trending, many took to social media to condemn her for contributing to the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and what Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls concentration camps – where migrants families are being detained in inhumane living conditions.
On the Department of Homeland Security’s official website, ICE even has an entire page dedicated to its female agents and a respective hashtag, #ICEwomenwork. But Kiara Cervantes (#ICEBae) is a rarity with ProPublica reporting that only five percent of more than 60,000 of CBP agents are women.
Vicki Gaubeca, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, told the publication that the recent secret Border Patrol Facebook group is just another example of the sexism and misogyny that runs rampant in Border Patrol. “That’s why they’re the worst at recruiting women,” she adds.
Many people on social media are also calling out other men of color in particular for using #ICEBae, treating it as a joke, and failing to see the bigger picture.
I see a lot of men of color are throwing away any shreds of dignity they have over this whole #IceBae ordeal lol. Y'all are clowns, but hey, hopefully the child prison camp lady can give y'all a fav & give you a false sense of adequacy for the day…😑
— Keenen B (@KBTM30) July 15, 2019
#IceBae is such a cute name for someone who puts black and brown children in cages.
We really will have to leave some of you behind.
— Rev Rell (@awkward_duck) July 15, 2019
Families are trapped in literal concentration camps and there are mountains of video/photo/written evidence of this, and the one thing y'all took from it was that a fucking ICE guard was attractive.
— Gay Rights, nigga (@massive2341) July 16, 2019
I’m never the type to be all serious on twitter(🤢) BUT…. #IceBae ? Seriously? We’re witnessing the rise of a modern day Nazi Germany & this is the crap you decide to tweet about? I’m sad for U.S. pic.twitter.com/uOoe7vGhn8
— Jay Breeze (@DeLaBreezus) July 15, 2019
In one of her latest tweets, Cervantes wrote, “WOW I am in awe. Thank you all for the support! My job is so hectic at this moment but I am grateful. I love protecting my country! And I love my supporters!”