Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has powerfully confronted a Trump administration official over a secret Facebook group for border agents, that contained twisted jokes about migrant children and showed computer generated images of her being raped and sexually assaulted.
The existence of the group, consisting of current and former members of the nation’s border patrol agency often referred to as CBP, was revealed earlier this month by an investigative journalism site.
This week, the New York congresswoman, who recently visited migrant detention facilities overseen by the US authorities and spoke of her horror at what she saw, questioned the acting head of the department of homeland security about the Facebook group and its contents. It existence was detailed by ProPublica.
“Did you see the posts planning physical harm to myself and congresswoman Escobar,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez asked Kevin McAleenan, referring to Veronica Escobar, another Democratic congresswoman who visited the facilities.
Mr McAleenan, the acting homeland security secretary, replied: “Yes. And I directed an investigation within minutes of reading the article.”
She continued: “Did you see the images of officers circulating photoshopped images of my violent rape?”
Mr McAleenan replied: “Yes, I did.”
Ms Ocasio-Cortez, who last year became the youngest women elected to Congress, asked if those people who made the posts were still working and responsible for the care of women and children.
“We’ve already put individuals on administrative duties, I don’t know which ones correspond to which posts and we’ve issued cease and desist orders to dozens more,” he replied.
Speaking at a hearing of the House of Representative’s overnight and reform committee, the congresswoman asked Mr McAleenan if the Trump administration’s controversial family separation policy had led to a “dehumanising culture” within the agency.
“We do not have a dehumanising culture at CBP,” said Mr McAleenan. “This is an agency that rescues 4,000 people a year.”
According to The Hill, Ms Ocasio-Cortez responded: “So you don’t think that having 10,000 officers in a violent, racist group sharing rape memes of members of Congress points to any concern of a dehumanised culture?”