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As President Trump openly claims that he is above the law, below is a roundup have of recent episodes that how his administration is advancing an immigration enforcement agenda that is unaccountable, un-American and increasingly unlawful.
A private contractor calls cops on U.S. Senator seeking basic accountability and information about detained children.
Yesterday, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) was barred from seeing the inside of a makeshift detention center at a shuttered Walmart in Brownsville, TX, with the private contractor running the facility going so far as to call local police on a United States Senator seeking basic information about the welfare and conditions of children separated from their parents.
The half-hour incident at a strip mall near the southern border with Mexico underscores the lack of transparency from President Trump’s administration about its intensifying efforts to break up undocumented families caught crossing the border, the centerpiece of a “zero tolerance” policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month to deter illegal immigration. Merkley said he tried to go through proper channels to arrange a site visit but was rebuffed. The senator said he’s also sought to figure out just how many kids are being held at the old Walmart, where the parking lot is packed with employee cars, but he cannot get a straight answer
In violation of the law, Border Patrol agents are physically preventing asylum seekers from stepping into the United States in order to claim asylum.
As Texas Monthly reports:
[T]hree Guatemalans made their way north Saturday on the Paso del Norte Bridge linking El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, seeking to claim asylum in the United States. On previous attempts over the past day, they had been met at the long bridge’s apex by Customs and Border Protection agents—a highly unusual tactic—who asked them for identification and told them they couldn’t proceed to the port of entry because the holding cells were at capacity. Once again, they were stopped by two CBP agents, asked for documents, and told they would not be allowed to go further into the United States
… [the tactic] marks an escalation in U.S. tactics to keep immigrants out of the country—including those legally entitled to enter and seek asylum … By making asylum claims at a port of entry, immigrants are supposed to be given a court date so that a judge may determine if the asylum claim is credible.
CBP agents seized more than $58,000 from Cleveland man without charging him with a crime.
As the Washington Post reports:
A 64-year-old Cleveland man is suing U.S. Customs and Border Protection after agents strip-searched him at an airport in October and took more than $58,000 in cash from him without charging him with any crime, according to a federal lawsuit filed this week in Ohio.
…[Cleveland resident Rustem] Kazazi is a retired officer with the Albanian police who relocated with his family to the United States in 2005 after receiving visas through the State Department’s lottery program. They became U.S. citizens in 2010. After several years away, Kazazi planned a trip to Albania last fall to visit relatives, make repairs on a family property and potentially purchase a vacation home.
He took $58,100 in U.S. currency with him, the product of 12 years of savings by Kazazi, his wife, Lejla, and his son Erald, who is finishing a chemical engineering degree at Cleveland State University, according to the lawsuit. The family lives in Parma Heights, a suburb of Cleveland. In an interview translated by his son, Kazazi said safety concerns prompted him to take cash on his trip, rather than wire the funds to a local bank.
In Houston, fear of immigration enforcement is causing immigrants to decline to report domestic violence or act as witnesses.
A New York Times article, “Fewer Immigrants Are Reporting Domestic Abuse. Police Blame Fear of Deportation, recaps one of the consequences of the Trump Administration’s anti-immigrant obsession – the chilling effect on immigrant witnesses willing to report crimes or otherwise interact with law enforcement:
Though Houston’s immigrant population is one of the fastest-growing in the country, the city last year saw a 16 percent drop in domestic violence reports from the Hispanic community — a decline that the police blame on a tough new immigration enforcement law in Texas and the increasingly hostile political climate across the country surrounding the issue of illegal immigration.
…“Undocumented immigrants and even lawful immigrants are afraid to report crime,” said [Houston Police Chief Art] Acevedo, who has spoken publicly about the need for local leaders to care for immigrants under increased pressure from state and federal authorities. “They’re seeing the headlines from across the country, where immigration agents are showing up at courthouses, trying to deport people.”