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ICE and CBP Need New Accountability Measures, Not New Hiring

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Trump’s Budget Funds Expansion of Deportation Force at the Expense of National Security

This week President Trump will request $6.6 billion to fund an expanded nationwide deportation force, new detention centers, and a massive infrastructure increase at the border (read: wall) – all to implement his mass deportation blueprint. As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other Senate Democrats have made clear, taxpayer money should not fund such a cruel, costly, and un-American assault on hard working immigrant families.

Trump Wants Cuts to Coast Guard, TSA … to Pay For ICE Funding

To pay for his nativist crusade, Trump proposes cuts to the Coast Guard, TSA and FEMA, functions which actually enhance national security. The funds will be directed to the building of a wasteful and idiotic border wall as well as a huge increase of the federal government’s deportation force. Trump’s desire to hire 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and 5,000 new Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents ignore the fact that ICE and CBP — now “unshackled” by the President’s Executive Orders — are two of the least professional, most undisciplined and notoriously corrupt law enforcement agencies in the nation.

ICE and CPB are not targeting so-called “bad hombres,”they are going after whoever they please, however they please. The number of recent examples in which ICE and CBP agents are detaining and deporting non-criminal undocumented immigrants with U.S. citizen children and deep ties to America continues to mount. Witness the recent story of Sara, the 26 year old woman with a brain tumor, shackled and detained by ICE and returned from a hospital to detention without permission to be cared for or seen by her family. Relentless public pressure finally forced ICE to relent. Or see the case of Daniel Ramirez Medina, the DACA recipient still detained in Washington state because ICE agents fabricated a gang affiliation charge and falsified Daniel’s statement to the contrary in a ham-fisted attempt to prove it. As Sandra Hernandez, a former journalist who covered ICE for the L.A. Daily Journal for years, noted in a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed, “Given ICE’s disturbing track record for ignoring legal limits, the excesses we’re hearing about now shouldn’t come as a surprise.” When it comes to CBP and ICE, where are the accountability measures?

NYT: Be Wary of Rogue ICE Applicants

Disturbingly, while ICE has yet to sufficiently rein in its rogue elements or stem its continued misconduct, it is set to ramp up hiring and potentially lower its hiring standards in the process. In a story titled, “Is ICE’s Help-Wanted Sign a Welcome Mat for Rogue Applicants, Too?”  the New York Times writes:

President Trump has vowed a hiring surge of 10,000 immigration and customs officers to accelerate the deportation of unauthorized immigrants. But the aggressive pace he has laid out risks adding to the ranks of rogue agents who have been charged with abusing immigrants. Over the past decade, dozens of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and contract guards responsible for the detention and removal of undocumented immigrants have been arrested and charged with beating people, smuggling drugs into detention centers, having sex with detainees and accepting bribes to delay or stop deportations, agency documents and court records show. One agent took pictures of himself having sex with a minor in a foreign country after dropping off deportees. In another case, an ICE lawyer pretending to be an immigration judge took bribes to remove official documents from the files of people awaiting deportation.

…some former Homeland Security officials said they worried that in an effort to accelerate hiring, the agency would be tempted to lower its standards. Leaked documents outlining plans to beef up a sister agency, the Border Patrol, first reported in Foreign Policy magazine, show that Customs and Border Protection officials are considering waiving polygraph tests for some applicants and applying less stringent background checks to speed the hiring of 5,000 agents.

ICE does not administer lie detector test to applicants. In 2016, the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility sought permission to use pre-employment polygraph examinations for law enforcement applicants similar to those used by the Border Patrol and Secret Service, but the proposal stalled.

Border Overreach: CBP Searching Phones of US Citizens

And in a story titled, “American Citizens: U.S. Border Agents Can Search Your Cellphone,” NBC News focuses on disturbing new allegations against CBP:

…In 25 cases examined by NBC News, American citizens said that CBP officers at airports and border crossings demanded that they hand over their phones and their passwords, or unlock them. The travelers came from across the nation, and were both naturalized citizens and people born and raised on American soil. They traveled by plane and by car at different times through different states. Businessmen, couples, senior citizens, and families with young kids, questioned, searched, and detained for hours when they tried to enter or leave the U.S. None were on terror watchlists. One had a speeding ticket. Some were asked about their religion and their ethnic origins, and had the validity of their U.S. citizenship questioned. What most of them have in common — 23 of the 25 — is that they are Muslim, like Shibly, whose parents are from Syria.

…Data provided by the Department of Homeland Security shows that searches of cellphones by border agents has exploded, growing fivefold in just one year, from fewer than 5,000 in 2015 to nearly 25,000 in 2016. According to DHS officials, 2017 will be a blockbuster year. Five-thousand devices were searched in February alone, more than in all of 2015.

‘That’s shocking,’ said Mary Ellen Callahan, former chief privacy officer at the Department of Homeland Security. She wrote the rules and restrictions on how CBP should conduct electronic searches back in 2009. ‘That [increase] was clearly a conscious strategy, that’s not happenstance.’

‘This really puts at risk both the security and liberty of the American people,’ said Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. ‘Law abiding Americans are being caught up in this digital dragnet. This is just going to grow and grow and grow,’ said Senator Wyden. ‘There’s tremendous potential for abuse here.’

The latest charges of CBP overreach come after the Washington Post and others reported last month how CBP agents asked domestic flight passengers arriving at JFK Airport from San Francisco International Airport to show IDs when departing the plane.

Also see this Politico expose on CBP from 2014, calling the Border Patrol “America’s most out-of-control enforcement agency.”