CBP employees' new challenge coin mocks care for migrant kids

Challenge Coins have their origins in the military; they're a little like a mission patch, commemorating some element of service or event, and they serve as a kind of badge of honor or respect -- you can show a challenge coin you've been given to people who were associated with its issuance as a way of demonstrating that you're on the same side.

Challenge coins are often wry: for example, the Secret Service issued a coin to commemorate their unpaid labor with during the 2019 shutdown.

Some CBP employees stationed on the US/Mexican border have been circulating a new challenge coin that mocks the changing role of the patrol: on one side, it says, "Keep the caravans coming" while on the other side, it reads "Feeding, processing, hospital, transport."

The coins were promoted in I'm 10-15, the secret Facebook group for CBP employees that was/is a cesspit of rape jokes, racism, violence, and threats against members of Congress.

Theresa Cardinal Brown, who worked at CBP under the Bush and Obama administrations, said that the coin was evidence (like the 10-15 Facebook group) of “reflexive dehumanization” by Border Patrol agents, and that the “tolerance for shenanigans” by supervisors and leadership had gone too far. “You have to say, ‘This is affecting the integrity and authority of us all.’”

The coin appears to have been designed, ordered and distributed months into the surge of Central American families at the border. Coins were being distributed to agents by late April, before the current wave of public attention and outrage over conditions for migrants in Border Patrol custody...

...Taking care of migrants (including children) in short-term custody is part of the Border Patrol’s job. When the intake system for migrant children is overwhelmed, as it was in 2014 and has been again in 2019, Border Patrol often holds children for longer than the 72 hours prescribed by the federal Flores settlement (a court agreement that governs the treatment of children in immigration custody), often in spaces not designed for children — or anyone. In recent weeks the government has greatly reduced the number of children in Border Patrol custody, thanks in large part to funding from Congress that expanded the intake system’s capacity.

Border Patrol Agents Are Passing Around A Commemorative Coin Mocking Care for Migrant Kids [Dara Lind/Propublica]