White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer recently praised the DHS immigration enforcement memos — which provide a detailed blueprint for mass deportation — for taking “the shackles off” ICE and CBP agents.
Below are just a few examples of what has happened since the “unshackling” began:
ICE and Its Disturbing Record
- A New York Times story from this weekend, “Immigration Agents Discover New Freedom to Deport Under Trump,” underscores that ICE agents are “newly emboldened, newly empowered and already getting to work … [reports of] pro-Trump political comments and banter that struck the officials as brazen or gung-ho, like remarks about their jobs becoming ‘fun.’”
- In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, Sandra Hernandez, a former journalist for the L.A. Daily Journal, summarizes her long history covering ICE: “Given ICE’s disturbing track record for ignoring legal limits, the excesses we’re hearing about now shouldn’t come as a surprise … The president says he will keep our country safe. ICE appears to have decided that when it cannot find serious criminals, it will protect us from the depredations of students, nannies and strawberry pickers.”
- A new New York Times story, “He’s a Local Pillar in a Trump Town. Now He Could Be Deported,” highlights the case of Carlos Pacheco, a popular longtime resident and father in Illinois coal country picked up by ICE and now set for deportation away from his family, his business and a pro-Trump community that thinks highly of him.
- Disturbing news comes from Colorado, where ICE agents waiting in a Denver courthouse hallway without a warrant, which follows news of the case of Irvin González, a thirty-three-year-old transgender woman arrested in an El Paso courthouse after seeking a protective order against an abusive ex-boyfriend.
- Let us not forget the stories of people who were leading ordinary lives before ICE decided that under Trump’s new “priorities” everyone is a priority: Daniel Ramirez Medina (the DACA recipient still detained in Washington state); Jose Escobar (ripped away from his US citizen wife and children because he missed a court date) Miguel Angel Torres in Texas (arrested in a case of mistaken identity); Guadalupe Garcia De Los Rayos in Arizona (deported away from her U.S. citizen kids for working with fake papers); Jeanette Vizguerra in Colorado (who sought sanctuary in a church rather than risk a meeting with ICE), and others.
Meanwhile, the prospect of an unshackled CPB is just as unsettling. Ahead of the impending release of the revised Muslim ban, a leaked DHS intelligence analysis disputes the idea that citizens from these seven nations pose a unique threat, calling citizenship an “unreliable indicator of terrorist threat to the United States.” But no matter — as the below examples underscore, CBP is already busy sowing fear and chaos independent from the realities of who may seek to do us harm:
- A recent New Yorker article on CBP noted, “We’re now seeing a preview of what happens when Border Patrol agents feel emboldened to take matters into their own hands … [after the initial Muslim ban executive order] One complaint, filed to the inspector general of the D.H.S. by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Cardozo Law School, detailed twenty-six accounts from lawyers and families members who were prevented from seeing clients and relatives being held by C.B.P. agents at airports. When C.B.P. agents were pressed to explain the situation, their answers ranged from ‘Just following orders’ to ‘Call Mr. Trump.’ Invoking the President was their cover.”
Detention at the Border
- Muhammad Ali, Jr. was detained and questioned by CBP for nearly two hours at a Florida airport, asking him multiple times “are you Muslim?”
- French Jewish Holocaust scholar Henry Rousso was detained by CBP for ten hours starting Wednesday evening in Houston. The university enlisted one of its law professors who specializes in immigrant rights to intervene … there was a ‘misunderstanding’ regarding Rousso’s visa, leading authorities to classify him as an illegal alien.”
- Australian children’s book author Mem Fox wrongfully detained for two hours by CBP, says “the agents appeared to have been given ‘turbocharged power’ by an executive order signed by President Donald Trump to ‘humiliate and insult’ a room full of people they detained to check visas.”
- Washington Post and others reported how CBP agents asked domestic flight passengers arriving at JFK Airport from San Francisco International Airport to show IDs when departing the plane.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
When a President gives the green light to federal law enforcement agencies that target vulnerable immigrants and operate with impunity, this is what you get: out of control police forces that declares open season on anyone they encounter. This is not the America we aspire to be. Both the policy and the implementation of the policy run counter to our self-proclaimed identity as a nation that welcomes immigrants and refugees.