U.S. Customs and Border Protection have opened an investigation to look into an unofficial “challenge coin” that displays the picture of a border patrol agent who chased Haitian migrants on horseback with what looked to be a whip, the Miami Herald reports.
The images led to a public outcry highlighting the less than subpar treatment of Haitian migrants in recent years. Despite Haiti being rocked by political unrest and climate change, many migrants seeking a better way of life have been deported. Deportations of Haitian immigrants were accelerated in May, as the New York Times notes. The makers of this challenge coin have yet to be identified.
Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the creation of the coins and whether anyone at CBP is selling them. Any who are will face “appropriate action,” said Luis Miranda, a CBP assistant commissioner, who said the agency’s chief counsel will also “send a cease-and-desist letter to any vendor who produces unauthorized challenge coins using one of CBP’s trademarked brands.
“The images depicted on this coin are offensive, insensitive, and run counter to the core values of CBP,” Miranda said. “This is not an official CBP coin.”
The challenge coin has inscriptions saying “Reining It In Since May 28, 1924" and “Yesterday’s Border Is Not Today’s Border” on one side, and “You will be returned” on the rim, says the Herald. On the face where the infamous picture resides, it says, “Honor Will Always Be First.” As far as the date is concerned, The Week states that 1924 is when the Johnson-Reed Act was passed. It was then that the Border Patrol was founded and when America started to reduce the number of immigrants who came into the country each year.
There has been no indication of how many of these coins have been created. However, the Herald points out that 41 coins were recently sold on eBay for $15.19. Longtime Haitian and immigration advocate Marleine Bastien stated the presence of the coin is “unprecedented, outrageous, and intolerable.” to the Herald.
“President Biden promised to get to the bottom of this, but there was not any action or repercussions,” and “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.”