Going Rogue: ICE And CBP
ICE and CBP have always been a kind of law unto themselves but, under Trump, they have truly been unleashed and are now blatantly violating the Constitution in a brazen attempt to intimidate immigrants and minorities.
The pattern of abusive behavior was evident even before Trump became President. In 2014, a class action suit was filed that alleged that ICE was basically acting as a provider for slave labor. The Denver Contract Detention Facility, a for-profit prison under contract with ICE that housed immigrants being detained before trial, was forcing its prisoners to work for $1 per day and, if they refused, those prisoners were then threatened with solitary confinement. This was not only a violation of Colorado’s minimum wage laws but also violated the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which prohibits modern-day slavery. These immigrants had not been convicted of a crime but were simply awaiting a court date to hear their cases. The defendant in the class action, which now has over 60,000 plaintiffs, is technically the company running the for-profit prison but the fact remains it was an ICE facility.
After the initial Muslim ban was ruled unconstitutional, there were many reports that CBP agents were actively ignoring the court order and continuing to refuse entry to travelers from seven Muslim countries. On Friday, we learned that those reports were actually grounded in truth. An investigation by Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) provided details on CBP’s violations. After being informed of the court order, CBP still deported an Iranian student, forcing her to on to a plane back to Iran. In Boston, the federal district judge specifically ordered CBP to notify all the airlines using Logan Airport that “individuals on those flights will not be detained or returned based solely on the basis of the Executive Order.” CBP not only ignored that order, it did exactly the opposite, telling airlines not to allow people from the banned countries to board their planes. According to Slate, “Indeed, OIG found that CBP did ‘everything in its power to block [these] travelers’ from boarding flights bound for the United States. Officers threatened airline representatives, asserting that the government would fine them $50,000 and bar their planes from landing if they ignored CBP’s (unlawful) orders.”
Finally, after another district judge ruled that CBP could no longer enforce the Muslim ban on a nationwide basis, allowing travelers from anywhere in the world who were legally allowed to enter the country, CBP once again ignored that order, willfully misinterpreting the clear meaning of the ruling and instead claiming that it only applied to the 60 plaintiffs in the underlying case. OIG declared “this interpretation as a ‘logical inconsistency’ designed to ‘resist judicial review of CBP’s international operations.’ Its report accuses CBP of engaging in ‘strategic maneuvering’ to continue enforcing the ban in contravention of court orders”.
Early in 2017, as it became clearer that ICE was simply focused on deporting all immigrants, not just ones with serious criminal records, the agency was accused of falsifying documents in order to deport a Dreamer who, at that point, was still protected. ICE was accused of doctoring the detainee’s statement that he was not associated with a gang to indicate the exact opposite, namely that he was a gang member. Identification as a gang member allows ICE to deport Dreamers.
Over the weekend, CBP officers boarded a Greyhound bus in Miami and demanded that all passengers present papers showing they were legally allowed to be in the country. This is not the first time that CBP has targeted bus passengers. Similar incidents have occurred in Washington, Arizona, New York, and Vermont. Of course, the Fourth Amendment states “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”. Americans can not be randomly stopped and be asked to “produce their papers”. But that constitutional provision is waived by the CBP when acting within 100 miles of the US border. Of course, CBP racially profiles the people on the bus that they actually demand proof of legal residence from.
ICE has apparently recently become even more aggressive, going after even those with green cards and without criminal records. In Michigan, a successful doctor who has lived in this country for over 40 years was arrested by ICE and held in custody. He has a permanent green card and his only brush with the law was two misdemeanors over 26 years ago that would supposedly not appear on his criminal record if he did not run afoul of the law again. Unfortunately for the doctor, ICE does not recognize the validity of that state program, something the doctor was unaware of when he pleaded guilty to the misdemeanors.
Lastly, it appears that ICE is now targeting Dreamers who are activists. A number of the activists who have recently been detained by ICE do have criminal records. But others do not. Maru Mora Villalpando, a Mexican national in Washington state and immigrant activist with no criminal record, has been notified by ICE that she may deported. Other activists have also been seemingly targeted by ICE. According to Representative Luis Gutierrez, “I have long suspected that very vocal advocates were harshly targeted after they spoke out. I would go to a hearing, an immigration hearing, and the person who made the biggest impression? I’d find out that they’d been detained. And that started last year.”
As one immigrant-rights activist says, “This latest tactic is something we might expect from generals in a tin-pot dictatorship, not federal officers in a 240-year-old democracy. Arresting immigrant activists who speak up is meant to sow fear in immigrant communities and stop political protest.” As Laura Rozen reported in her article about immigrants being deported to their deaths, CBP officers now answer to Trump and not to the rule of law. According to a recent lawsuit, CBP officers now say to asylum seekers, “Trump says we don’t have to let you in.”. That’s what we can now expect from the lawless ICE and CBP under the Trump administration.