A photograph of a young Latina CBP employee went viral earlier this week, sparking the hashtag #icebae after social media users became smitten with her appearance while at her post in a Texas migrant detention center. The CBP officer, Kiara Cervantes, was on the job while Vice President Mike Pence was present to take stock of the conditions inside of the facility. And apparently, that made her some people’s #icebae.
If the hashtag itself is not disturbing enough, Cervantes took the opportunity to capitalize on her newfound publicity as Ice Bae. She set up a twitter account, which she has begun to populate with messages of gratitude and “positivity” following her recent life-changing experience of being photographed in front of a chain-link fence, with migrants detained on the other side. “WOW I am in awe,” she tweeted on July 15th. “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!” She also took the opportunity to post a deliberate #icebae selfie, presumably relishing the outpouring of praise she has been receiving since being introduced to the public, which has since been removed per the CBP’s request.
Cervantes tweeted a flippant and tone-deaf video of herself explaining to her followers why she chose to open up social media accounts after being dubbed Ice Bae. “I kinda just want something positive to come out this if anything,” she says to the camera. “I want to, you know, reach out to younger women, and to show them to work hard, to get an education — to anybody in general to be respectful, to be kind, to be humbled because all of that goes a long way, you know, good things happen to good people.” It’s just… hard to even know how to begin to process her statement and the depth of cognitive dissonance that it evokes. As for the hate she has personally been receiving from people who are appalled at her celebration and flattery in the wake of #icebae, she says, simply, “It doesn’t faze me.” The video has over 5 million views.
Conservative meme creators have also attached themselves to Cervantes’s 15 minutes of fame, praising her for her looks, pitting the Latina law enforcement agent against Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It’s totally creepy, but not that surprising for the Internet. On the other side of the political aisle, CBP’s critics have been expressing outrage and disgust over Cervantes’s inability to acknowledge the gravity of detaining and being detained; they have been creating their own memes that emphasize the irony of the callousness of #icebae.