Updated: Apr 20
You may have noticed that I have left social media. My Twitter, Facebook, Instagram...I have walked away from all of them. Last December, I tried to take a small break from social media. Some days were more successful than others. It taught me that social media is an addiction for me.
There is no doubt that social media, especially my following on Twitter, is what helped make it possible for an unknown former Border Patrol agent to get a book published. So, let me explain why I have taken such a drastic step.
If you followed me on any of my social media accounts, you may be aware that I often responded to the social media accounts of Border Patrol and CBP officials. I regularly pointed out the lies, racism and brutality of their posts. My comments on agency and union posts have demonstrated how often they lie, mislead and even spread racist and hate filled propaganda that often results in further violence against migrants and border residents while constantly portraying the agencies and their employees as honorable, angelic-like humanitarians. In that aspect, social media has been helpful in that it has allowed me to expose many to the truth about Border Patrol propaganda and how it works.
Thanks to social media, many more of you now know about the illegal and secret Critical Incident Teams of the Border Patrol; the ones that Biden has quietly rolled into Customs and Border Protection's Office of Professional Responsibility that should simply be renamed the CBP-Coverup Units because that is what they are. You also know from my posts how agents are trained in the field by their journeymen (training officers) to hit cars during pursuits, making them crash and often injuring or killing people while creating fake radio transcripts claiming that we had terminated the pursuits when we actually never did. You now know how we Border Patrol agents are trained in the field by senior agents that if we ever shoot a migrant, we are told to claim that they had a rock and that we feared for our lives even though no agent has ever been killed by a rock. You even know how the evidence is rigged by the Critical Incident Teams, how they routinely fail to identify and even collect evidence that may prove our use of force was illegal. You likely know about the insanely well organized and robust rape culture that still exists in the Border Patrol.
While social media has allowed me to introduce many of you to these rarely understood cultural and systemically rigged systems the agencies use to protect the institutions and agents from accountability for the corruption and crimes they are committing on a daily basis, it also leaves many of you without a complete understanding as to how these events occur and how the agency keeps getting away with this misconduct and outright human rights violations.
The subjects I speak and write on are quite grave. The people affected by the policies and laws that I used to enforce deserve more than a quip or a meme on social media. They deserve to be explored, written about and discussed in great detail.
With this understanding, my social media presence has failed many of you. Sure it's fun to snap back immediately, but what does that accomplish? Not much. Little has changed since I began this journey. If anything, our immigration and asylum systems have been further gutted and made more cruel under President Biden. Coming forward about many of the brutal systems and how they work has done little to change anything because there is no demand for accountability and truth and reconciliation hearings to expose these corrupted systems. It is only the families and the Border Victim's Network who are still working towards justice for the hundreds of other families who do not have the benefit of highly skilled attorneys or media attention.
At the same time, my constant exposure to the crimes and atrocities of these systems is taking a toll on my mental health and my personal relationships as it did when I was an agent. Between researching the coverups of the Critical Incident Teams that frankly involved many agents I knew and worked with, exposing the rape culture, the everyday pictures of the dead migrants pushed to the dangerous terrain, the remains of dead women that I can tell have been sexually assaulted, the callousness with which the agency and its corrupt management always try to coverup their brutality and blame the victims, the threats to my life, the fact that I used to do this job and took part in these same human rights atrocities, the constant reminder that I used to wear that badge and enforce those laws can sometimes overwhelm me.
I am not walking away from my work. I am always cognizant that those who fall victim to the systems I helped create and once supported do not have the luxury of walking away. When I tried walking away, when I used my privilege to do so in an attempt to forget my sins and ease my guilt, that only led to self-hatred and a suicide attempt.
If the victims cannot just walk away, then I neither can I.
My social media timeout experiment taught me several things. Social media is toxic for me. I spend far more time looking at others' posts or comments than writing about events and people that require and deserve far more thought, care and explanation than I can give on a social media post. What I have noticed since leaving social media is a new sense of calm and focus. I am more present with my family and friends. I am more thoughtful and careful in my writings when I am not worrying about who said what and how to respond to it on social media.
More and more, I am finding that it is the small group discussions that I have all across the U.S., talks in law classes, journalism schools, churches, book stores, etc that make the difference, that help educate and transform people's perceptions of migrants and the systems of brutality that we knowingly place them in.
No, I am not leaving activism. I am focusing.