Collectible coin showing border agent grabbing Haitian immigrant under investigation by feds

An eBay merchant says the coins depicting a Haitian migrant being captured were “flying off the shelf” with one going for roughly $500

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection is investigating a series of unofficial coins circulating eBay that feature a widely decried image of a Haitian migrant being mistreated at the U.S.-Mexico border by white patrol officers on horseback.

The phrases “You will be returned” and “Reining it in since May 28, 1924” are inscribed on the controversial line of “challenge” coins, which typically are custom memorabilia used in trade, commonly awarded in commemoration of an event or achievement, per NPR.

The images of migrants being whipped and corraled, which first surfaced online in September, call to mind the dark days of slavery when white men on horseback oppressed and abused enslaved Black people on plantations.

An image of the coin depicts a U.S. Border Patrol agent on horseback trying to stop Haitian migrants. (via eBay, Andy Christiansen)

Luis Miranda, agency spokesperson for CBP, condemned the images and confirmed that the coin was not made by the federal authority.

“The images depicted on this coin are offensive, insensitive, and run counter to the core values of CBP. This is not an official CBP coin,” stated Miranda, per CNN.

An agency spokesperson told NPR that the CBP Office of Chief Counsel (OCC) will be sending a cease-and-desist letter “to any vendor who produces unauthorized challenge coins using one of CBP’s trademarked brands.”

“These coins anger me because the hateful images on them have no place in a professional law enforcement agency,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said.

A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021. (Photo by PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images)

“Those who make or share these deeply offensive coins detract and distract from the extraordinarily difficult and often life-saving work Border Patrol agents do every day across the country,” he added

An eBay reseller in Utah, who told NPR he purchased the coins at an auction, said they were “flying off the shelf” for some time after he listed them online, with one going for roughly $500.

The seller, Andy Christiansen, took down the eBay post following CBP’s statements but told the outlet that he intends to re-list the remaining 20 coins for sale in the future, claiming that it is “strictly business” and that he is “uneducated on that situation” regarding the history of U.S. enslavement that the images resemble.

The images surfaced last September as Haitians sought shelter by the thousands under the Del Rio International Bridge, which traverses the Rio Grande from Mexico to Texas. The mistreatment was quickly condemned by Vice President Kamala Harris and other high-ranking officials in the Biden administration.

Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund told theGrio, “the images we saw of Border Patrol agents on horseback menacing and corralling Black migrants like cattle raises for so many of us — especially for Black people — the most painful, hideous images of slave patrols from the most ugly periods of this nation’s past.

theGrio’s April Ryan contributed to this report.

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