CBP says it will probe unofficial coin depicting mistreatment of Haitian migrants at Del Rio

Miami Herald reports it’s unclear “how many of the coins were made or distributed,” but that dozens have sold for $15 on eBay. It’s not the first time offensive coins have been passed around among border agents. ProPublica reported in 2019 that agents circulated unofficial coins that read “Keep the caravans coming,” and that mocked “the task of caring for migrant children.” One side depicted an agent bottle-feeding a baby. The words “feeding,” “processing,” “hospital,” and “transport” were emblazoned along the coin’s edge.

The report said that it was also unclear at that time how those coins were being distributed, but noted that one agent passed it along at work, while another shared how it was ordered online. “Government officials told ProPublica the coin was not approved or paid for by the government, unlike official ‘challenge coins’ that go through an agency approval process,” the report said.

In the case of the coin depicting the Del Rio abuses, Miami Herald reports that the Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility will investigate its origins. Luis Miranda, CBP assistant commissioner, said government attorneys also plan to “send a cease-and-desist letter to any vendor who produces unauthorized challenge coins using one of CBP’s trademarked brands,” the report continued.

But the problem isn’t the coin, it’s the culture of abuse, and this clear belief by border agents that they can get away with whatever the fuck they do. Just a handful of the dozens of agents probed for their participation in the Facebook group faced serious consequences. And despite Department of Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas saying last September that an investigation into the Del Rio abuses would be conducted “with tremendous speed and tremendous force,” and that it would be done “in days—not weeks,” nothing has publicly happened.

Miami Herald reports that the migrant likely depicted on the coin has already been deported back to Haiti. He has since launched a lawsuit against the federal government. ”Tess Hellgren, an attorney on a case involving Mirard as a plaintiff, told the Miami Herald that the coin was the ‘celebration and commodification of racist violence,’” the report said.

“President Biden promised to get to the bottom of this, but there was not any action or repercussions,” immigration advocate Marleine Bastien said in the report. “Now the Border Patrol is so emboldened that they are making a mockery of the suffering of Black refugees. They are so proud of their criminal behavior that they immortalized it with a coin. I am calling on the Biden administration to step up and investigate this affront and to hold those responsible accountable.”


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