Until reading this Jonathan M. Katz piece yesterday, I guess that I hadn’t seen the actual reasons for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reportedly becoming visibly angry at border agents during her recent tours of America’s concentration camps.
It wasn’t even in the distance. She was two feet in front of me, and there was this glass perimeter in front of them. And that’s when all hell broke loose. Because I pointed at her as she was holding the phone in front of everybody: the entire congressional delegation, the acting director, all of their supervisors. And I said, “Look at her. She’s taking a selfie right after everything that was just released this morning. Which you all just indicated you’re aware of.” And I was like, “Look at her. She’s taking a selfie right now.”
Then she got startled, as though what she was doing wasn’t incredibly obvious. And some of the other officers started laughing. She put her phone away. And I turned to the supervisors in CBP, and I said, “It is extremely clear that you all have lost all control over the culture here in these facilities. You have lost complete control of the culture. Clearly they do not respect your authority or your leadership. It’s either that, or they just think or know that you are not going to do anything. And that you are just going to turn the other cheek as soon as we leave if they feel this bold and brazen to do something so egregious in front of their superiors. Multiple levels of superiors.” And I was like, “You all have lost all control of this facility. And to tell us that we need to check our phones, and then to have this happen. Well, you—all rules are out the window.”
So, this is all kinds of horrifying, because it’s not just about the conditions, and it’s not just about the long-running Facebook group where agents feel free and encouraged to be racist and dehumanizing, it’s about the authorities having known about that group for some time but having done nothing about it, and it’s not just about what it says about agents that they tried to weaponize homophobia to shame a man.
It’s about a moment like this where the dismissive behavior is so known and accepted that agents are willing to be this disrespectful in the midst of the very humanitarian crisis they themselves are perpetrating, so brazenly and so openly.