Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., suggested Tuesday that Border Patrol agents should be fired for working with organizations that the Southern Poverty Law Center brands “hate groups.”
Ocasio-Cortez asked John Modlin, Tucson sector chief for the Border Patrol, if he knew that members of a militia group that the SPLC brands a “hate group” had “regular contact” with agents in his sector.
“Are you aware of the militia group known as Veterans on Patrol?” she asked. Modlin replied, “Yes.”
“And are you aware that this organization is a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center?” she asked. He again said, “Yes.”
Ocasio-Cortez asked whether Modlin knew that Border Patrol agents “have had regular contact and, according to this report, seem to have received assistance from this organization?”
Modlin noted that “assistance” can mean a variety of things.
“If someone calls and says there’s illegal activity on the border, then we do respond, and obviously some of these calls will come from militia groups,” he said.
“I ask because Veterans on Patrol, again, a designated hate group, does publish quite a bit of their own media,” Ocasio-Cortez continued, noting one video in which she said “an agent greets militia members with a high-five.”
“This is an organization that spreads antisemitic conspiracies and beyond, and I was wondering if your sector has a policy regarding agents interfacing with known members of designated hate organizations?” Ocasio-Cortez pressed.
“I don’t know that it’s possible to separate all interaction with any group that’s down at the border,” Modlin answered. “Certainly we do not encourage militia groups, or anyone else, to be in the border environment, but we do respond, again, if someone calls and says there’s someone in distress that needs us or if they’ve witnessed some illegal action on the border.”
Then the New York Democrat asked point-blank whether Border Patrol agents would be fired for working with “hate groups.”
“If you were to discover agents actively working with hate groups and militias, would their employment be terminated?” Ocasio-Cortez asked.
Modlin noted that Border Patrol agents “are all part of a bargaining unit,” and are afforded “the right to representation.”
“I don’t know that I could say what would and wouldn’t trigger an automatic termination, but there would certainly be a disciplinary process,” Modlin concluded.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a left-leaning activist group and pro-bono litigation outfit notorious for its “hate group” accusations against mainstream conservative and Christian organizations.
As I explain in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC took the program it used to bankrupt organizations associated with the Ku Klux Klan and weaponized it against conservative groups, partially to scare donors into ponying up cash and partially to silence ideological opponents.
After the SPLC fired its co-founder amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal in 2019, a former staffer claimed that the SPLC’s accusations of “hate” are a “cynical fundraising scam” aimed at “bilking northern liberals.” Critics across the political spectrum have voiced opposition and alarm at the organization’s “hate group” smears.
In 2012, a terrorist targeted the Family Research Council’s headquarters in the nation’s capital, entering the lobby with a semiautomatic pistol and then shooting and wounding a guard. The man told the FBI that he found the conservative organization on the SPLC’s “hate map” and intended to kill everyone in the building.
The man later pleaded guilty to committing an act of terror and received a 25-year prison sentence. The SPLC condemned the attack, but has kept the Family Research Council on its “hate map” ever since.
The SPLC does not brand Veterans on Patrol a “hate group,” but rather an “antigovernment militia.” The SPLC claims the militia “advances initiatives that are founded on common antigovernment and anti-immigrant ideas,” and has “anti-Indigenous, antisemitic, anti-Catholic and anti-Mormon falsehoods.” The SPLC quotes the militia’s mission page as stating that “The Jews have used their political puppets to alter the constitution and create new laws that allow mass-immigration, same-sex marriage, unregulated market, bribing of politicians, funding of Israel, and many more destructive policies.”
It remains unclear how much influence this militia has. Its official website does not appear on a Google search, and a review on the “Veterans on Patrol” Facebook page claims that the page is fake.
Ocasio-Cortez did not immediately respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment about her suggestion that Border Patrol should fire agents who work with organizations that the SPLC brands “hate groups.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, parent agency of the Border Patrol, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether any interaction by agents with SPLC-accused “hate groups” would spark disciplinary action.
This report may be updated with a response from Ocasio-Cortez or Customs and Border Protection.
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