August 17, 2022

Horrifyingly racist text messages from Border Patrol agents just surfaced

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Voting for Donald Trump in 2020 will be a singularly immoral act, one which his supporters will be forced to explain to future generations. Temperament, incompetence, and criminality aside, this president is engaged in a cruel and racist campaign along the southern border that will horrify future students of history.


There is no justification, no nebulous talk of “economic anxiety” that can justify tearing innocent families apart and throwing children in cages. Violating the humans right of people of color might play well with Trump’s xenophobic base, but it has cemented his legacy as the vilest man to ever hold the Oval Office.

Now, we’ve been given a look into the mind one of the men tasked with carrying out the president’s hateful agents. Border Patrol Matthew Bowen, who hit a young undocumented immigrant from Guatemala with a truck, was indicted in May 2018 for a civil rights crime and an obstruction crime for trying to cover up what he did.  Rolling Stone reports that some of his text messages have been entered into the court record, and they contain stunning racist comments.

Just two weeks before the truck incident, he texted another Border Patrol agent, referring to undocumented immigrants who had thrown rocks at an associate as “mindless murdering savages” as well as “disgusting subhuman shit unworthy of being kindling for a fire.” Regardless of the rock throwing, such language is inexcusable and displays a level of racism and dehumanization that is chilling to see in a federal employee.

Also included in the text messages was an entreaty for the president to sign off on even more government-backed brutality: “PLEASE let us take the gloves off trump!”

Federal prosecutors are arguing that the text messages provide “insight into his view of the aliens he apprehends,” a strong argument given that Bowen would go on to hit Antolin Rolando Lopez-Aguilar with his truck not long after. Bowen spotted him and, suspecting that he was crossing the border without documentation, pursued him in his truck instead of on foot.

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A camera caught the ensuing attack, which an affidavit says depicts Bown positioning “the front grille of the truck directly behind Lopez-Aguilar.” He accelerated into him and smashed him to the ground with the truck stopping “within inches of running Lopez-Aguilar over where he lay on the ground.” Luckily, he was not badly injured.

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In addition to Bowen’s despicable behavior, his text conversations with other agents reveal a pervasive culture of racism. Casual slurs used by some of the individuals include “guat” and “f*cking beaners.”

Another term that pops often is “tonk.” Rolling Stone reports that in 2004, a court case which dealt with similar violence carried out by Border Patrol involved one agent describing “tonk” as “the sound heard when a ‘wetback’ is hit over the head with a flashlight.”

Repeatedly, the agents joked about inflicting brutal violence on undocumented immigrants. In one text conversation, another agent asked Bowen about using oil to make his taser more painful: “Did you… use regular peanut oil while tazing??”

“Guats are best made crispy with an olive oil from their native pais,” Bowen responded.

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Clearly, Bown is just the tip of the racist iceberg. A full federal investigation should be launched into the bigotries and behavior of the Border Patrol to discern how deep and pervasive this problem is.

More of the disturbing text messages can be read below.

BowenTextsExhibit by on Scribd


Natalie Dickinson

Natalie is a staff writer for the Washington Press. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been freelance blogging and writing for progressive outlets ever since.

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