Kiara Cervantes is a customs officer for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection who has gone viral on social media with the nickname #IceBae after she was pictured in photos with Vice President Mike Pence and several Republican lawmakers during their tour of an ICE detention center in Texas. Cervantes has since been featured in hundreds of memes, many comparing her to another Latina woman, New York U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has been a vocal critic of ICE and the Trump administration’s actions against migrants.
The hashtag nickname quickly grew in popularity on Twitter, and while there were some people supporting the woman identified as 26-year-old Kiara Cervantes, many users were angry at the inappropriate nickname, and then incensed at her proud response to the overnight fame. She later came forward on Twitter and created her own profile, @kiarace24, which now has more than 55,000 followers.
In one viral meme, Cervantes appears to be unaffected while AOC and her supporters rally outside the fence. Once identified, Cervantes created a Twitter account, which already has 12K followers, and posted a video online introducing herself to all her new “fans.” In the clip she says, “It’s me. I’m based in Texas. And yeah, I don’t what else to say.”
Federal authorities confirmed to the New York Post that Kiara Cervantes is an employee of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency and is free to use social media. “CBP does not restrict employees from participating in social media for personal use,” a CBP official told The Post. “As we have previously said, CBP employees are held to the highest expectation of conduct, both on and off duty and must adhere to CBP’s standards of conduct.”
The initial video she posted and a photo of her in her uniform have been deleted from her feed. Cervantes has declined interviews, saying she is waiting for guidance from her bosses, according to The Post. The newspaper reports that Cervantes lives is a Texas native and a registered Democrat. Cervantes is from Laredo, Texas.
She also wrote her first tweet, thanking Vice-President Mike Pence 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!”
While the comments on her looks appear to be completely out of line since she’s not a model, she’s a customs officer, helping defend what many people see as an immoral detention center, Cervantes is loving the new attention.
“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!” she tweeted.
Kiara C also addressed some questions.
As to why she created Twitter, she said, “I felt I had to…. I didn’t even have twitter but was getting notified by friends and family. I don’t like people to speak ill on my name. I am a very nice person with a big heart…. I always treat everyone I come in contact with at work with respect.”
She also said, “Scott, I can’t agree with concentration camps. But… 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.”
To someone who called her scum and said she was a disgrace to her parents by being Hispanic and working at a migrant detention center, she wrote, “I think that’s really rude and naive of you to say. You have no idea who my parents are and no idea what goes into my job on a daily basis… before speaking on something you know nothing about…. DONT. Regardless I’m blessed and thankful for the career I have.”
She added new videos on Wednesday:
She tweeted Wednesday, “Waking up seeing all these beautiful comments!! Thank you!! Hope your day is as beautiful as you all have been to me. ❤️❤️❤️”
Who Started #IceBae ?
It appears Kiara’s photo jumped up in popularity after Bryan Sharpe, aka Hotep Jesus, author of the book Twitter Marketing: How to Build a Cult-Like Following tweeted, “Trump gave us #IceBae Best President Ever!” After that tweet, the nickname caught on and was quickly shared by thousands.
While her nickname is now ICE Bae, she does not actually work for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She said in one tweet that she works as a federal customs officer.
#IceBae Has Garnered a Strong Army of Detractors
However, many users on Twitter do not find anything cute or funny about Cervantes’ nickname, or her vocation. Retweeting the selfie she shared online, one user wrote, “Felt cute, might enforce my country’s immigration policies and separate children from their families later.”
#IceBae Also Has Her Fair Share of Fans
While there are many detractors both for her seemingly inappropriate nickname, and for being on the wrong side of the border situation, Kiara has a good amount of supporters online. Most are proud right wing conservatives, many wearing “Make America Great Again” hats in their profile pictures. One user wrote “Keeping America safe and looking good doing it.”