US Border Patrol agents have been spreading an unofficial commemorative coin which appears to mock “the task of caring for migrant children” and other duties that Border Patrol staff have been tasked with along the Mexico-US border, according to a July 2019 report from ProPublica.
One side of the coin shows a group of migrants carrying the Honduran flag, a reference to the Honduran migrant caravan that President Trump and other portrayed as a national crisis in 2018; the coin’s other side shows Border Patrol Agents caring for migrant children. The coin, ProPublica described, “appears to poke fun at the fact that many border agents are no longer out patrolling and instead are now caring for and processing migrants — including families and children.”
The coin is evidence of “reflexive dehumanization” by Border Patrol agents, Theresa Cardinal Brown, a Customs and Border Protection official under the Bush and Obama administrations, told ProPublica. “You have to say, ‘This is affecting the integrity and authority of us all.’”
Military and law enforcement groups often circulate ‘challenge’ coins as ways for members of the organizations to identify one another and celebrate achievements.
ProPublica reported that these coins been found in Border Patrol workplaces from California and Texas. It is unclear who has been producing them or how they’re being circulated, with some Border Patrol Agents claiming to have had them passed around the office and others filling out an online order form.
Customs and Border Protection officials told ProPublica that this challenge coin was not approved or paid for by the government, unlike official ones that go through an agency approval process. CBP is investigating the coins because the unofficial coin’s use of the Border Patrol logo is a potential trademark violation.
Border Patrol agents told ProPublica that the coins have been promoted via a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol officials, which past ProPublica reports have documented as platforms for racist and violent posts.
Independent news outlets, including Rolling Stone, the Milwaukee Independent, The Hill, and Truthout all either republished Dara Lind’s original report for ProPublica or published reports based on it. But the story does not appear to have been covered by any of the major national newspapers.
Source: Dara Lind, “Border Patrol Agents Are Passing Around A Commemorative Coin Mocking Care for Migrant Kids,” ProPublica, July 12, 2019, https://www.propublica.org/article/border-patrol-agents-are-passing-around-a-commemorative-coin-mocking-care-for-migrant-kids
Student Researcher: Henry Schmidel (University of Vermont)
Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams (University of Vermont)