U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez confronted the head of Homeland Security about why border patrol agents were sharing pictures of her being sexually assaulted.
The progressive congresswoman posed the question to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan during a House Oversight and Reform Committee meeting Thursday. She focused on a recent ProPublica report on thousands of Border Patrol agents who engaged in hateful commentary in a Facebook group.
"Did you see the images of officers circulating Photoshop images of my violent rape?" Ocasio-Cortez asked, according to USA Today.
Ocasio-Cortez also asked if McAleenan had seen posts planning physical harm to "myself and Congresswoman [Veronica] Escobar?"
McAleenan said he had seen those posts, alerted by the ProPublica reporting, and promptly started an investigation. He could not say whether individuals behind the post had been placed on administrative leave.
"I directed an investigation within minutes of reading the article," he testified.
McAleenan took umbrage, however, when Ocasio-Cortez asked about a "dehumanizing" culture at Customs and Border Patrol, and whether family separation policies contributed to that.
"We do not have a dehumanizing culture at CBP," he said, insisting the agency rescues 4,000 people a year.
The agency has come under fire for the treatment of asylum seekers.
Notably, two transgender refugees have died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement since President Donald Trump took office. Johana Medina died in June. Roxsana Hernandez died in May 2018.
Democrats at the hearing slammed a policy of separating children from parents at the U.S. border and keeping them in separate detention centers.
Ocasio-Cortez contended in her questioning that such a policy led to many of the dehumanizing remarks agents made both about immigrants seeking asylum and about elected officials of Latino descent like herself and Escobar.
She suggested the fact that thousands of agents were sharing "rape memes" of members of Congress proved a dehumanizing culture exists.
McAleenan said it should not be assumed every member of that Facebook group agreed with violent, racist, and sexist materials being shared there.
"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."