As the image quickly trended on Twitter, the officer was soon identified as Kiara Cervante.
Though Cervante has been given the nickname “ICEBae” by social media, she does not work for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. Early Wednesday morning the US Customs and Border Protection agency confirmed Cervantes’ employment as a CBP officer based in Texas.
In the viral image Cervante is seen standing on the opposite side of a gate while crowded migrants stand on the other side, packed in cages.
Not one to shy away from 15 minutes of fame, Cervante created a Twitter account, posting her email address in her bio and a video introducing herself to her new 39,000 followers: “It’s me. I’m based in Texas. And yeah, I don’t know what else to say.”
Her first tweet was dedicated to Pence, the highest-ranking member of the Trump Administration to visit the facilities, thanking him for the honor of performing her job while he visited the detention center.
Soooo it’s crazy…. but here I am. I’m hearing something about a viral picture. I would like to say i was just doing my job.. providing security for the visit of @VP
. It was an honor and I take a lot of pride in my job!
— Kiara C (@kiarace24) July 15, 2019
She also thanked her “fans,” tweeting her love for protecting her country. Pro-Trump users also tweeted their support, as her photo was shared over a thousand times. But others weren’t so friendly.
WOW I am in awe. Thank you all for the support! My job is so hectic at this moment but I am grateful. I love protecting my country! 🇺🇸🇺🇸❤️ And I love my supporters!
— Kiara C (@kiarace24) July 16, 2019
Many Twitter users were angered over the inappropriate nickname, which seemed to poke fun at the ongoing immigration crisis on the southern border. The cost to American taxpayers is a staggering $4.5 million per day. Twitter users also condemned Cervante for her seemingly proud response to overnight stardom.
Recent probes at the McAllen Border Patrol station have discovered immigrants were forced to drink out of toilet bowls due to no clean water, with no place to sleep.
When detainees saw reporters arrive during Pence’s visit, many began shouting, claiming they had been there for over a month, hungry, and unable to perform basic hygiene needs, including brushing their teeth.
Last week, the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General released a heartbreaking report, slamming the department for inhumane conditions where even detained children didn’t have access to showers, fresh clothes. or hot meals.
The report continued, detailing how the holding cells were “dangerously overcrowded” and were designed for only 20% of the detainees currently being held there.
According to a 2016 study, Latinos make up more than 50 percent of CBP officers, including #IceBae.
After one user commented on her post, calling the caged cell in her pictures a “concentration camp,” Cervantes responded to the criticism tweeting: “This station in particular isn’t meant to be a holding facility hence the overpopulation of aliens. We are doing our best but some people won’t ever understand. They don’t know the daily of what my job consists of.. But thank you for seeing how difficult my job can be… Not only because I am Latina but just in general the mass amount of people crossing ILLEGALLY daily and the processing can take a toll on anyone of any gender and any race.”
Cervantes, who is a registered Democrat, has not released an official statement about her new-found fame, but did tell the New York Post she was prohibited about speaking out until she “speaks to management with CBP.”
The CBP doesn’t have an issue with Cervantes’ social media notability- as of yet, telling the Daily News that they “do not restrict employees from participating in social media for personal use.”
Photo: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images