Tag Archives: immigration

Show Me Your Papers … Or Spend the Rest of Your Life in Hell

Hell in this case being, where else, a commercial airplane. The story, in case you missed it, is in the Washington Post: “Passengers sue government over immigration authorities’ demand they produce ID before leaving flight.” http://wapo.st/2gzQine The nine plaintiffs are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The government has now gone full-Nazi, a trend apparent since Donald Trump took office and began finding ways to strip Americans of their Constitutional rights. According to the story, way back in February two Customs and Border Protection agents blocked the jet way to an arriving aircraft and demanded identification documents from passengers trying to deplane. The crew had announced that showing government ID was required to deplane. Allegedly (presumption of innocence, or in this case truthfulness), passengers with the temerity to ask ‘why,’ were told it was “routine.” Ha! That’s a good one. Routine.

The routine is to be checked against various no-fly lists when you make a reservation and to be required to show ID at two stops en-route to the plane for its originating flight: once at the airline check-in counter and again at the TSA security checkpoint. If you skip the counter, because, say, you have no luggage and pre-printed your boarding pass, you still must show ID to pass security and board the plane. People who fly even somewhat regularly know this. The assertion that the pre-deplaning demand for ID was “routine” is pure … poppycock.

Not surprisingly, the Justice Department and CBP would not comment about the incident but said that the non-comment “should not be construed as agreement or stipulation with any of the allegations.” Of course not. Everybody knows that when the Trump-led government refuses to admit something is true despite being witnessed by dozens of people, it’s …. Let’s move on.

According to the Post, the suit seeks to bar the government from demanding ID before deplaning without a warrant or some other individualized reason to ask. The government apparently acknowledged later that it was looking for an ”immigrant” who was subject to a deportation order to leave the United States. The flight in question was from San Francisco to New York JFK Airport. As reported, an official with the Department of Homeland Security said after the incident,

“When we’re asked by our law enforcement partners to assist in searching for a person of interest, we are able to, and will, help” …. “This isn’t a new policy or related to any new executive order.”

Of course, the target of all this activity was not actually on the flight.

To be clear, the CBP agents in question were doing the job that management had given them. They cannot be expected to say “hey, this is stupid. We can get the answer another way and without drama.” So, let’s stay focused on the real issue.

The incident raises the question: why couldn’t the federal government, using information already in its systems arising from the original clearance and boarding of the plan, have determined whether the target was on the plane? If the government was unable to do this, a serious concern about the integrity of the security process that controls who may board an aircraft is raised. Perhaps this will be explored during the litigation that has ensued from this ham-handed “intervention.”

Another question also intrigues me, but we’ll never know the answer:  what would have happened if one or more the passengers had said,

OK, I’m not subjecting myself to this process, that I believe violates my rights, so I’ll just return to my seat. I will stay on this plane until I am allowed to leave without having to re-establish my identity. I have enough food and water to hole up here for several days! Where are we flying next?

Would the federal agents have repeated the scene from the recent United flight in which a passenger refused to deplane and give his seat to an airline employee and was then violently dragged off the plane? Or, would they applied common sense and checked the computer records to see if the target was on the plane? Speculation is invited.

I Am an Immigrant – And So Are You

I attended a rally a few days ago at the White House in response to Not-My-President Trump’s Travel/Muslim Ban 2.0. There were a few hundred people there; not bad considering the last-minute callout from MoveOn.org. I have a few observations about this experience.

The rally group was forced by uniformed officers to move from the side of Lafayette Park closest to the White House to a spot furthest removed from the White House even though we were separated from the WH fence by two sidewalks and the wide pedestrian-only stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue between them. I say “forced” because the threat was “move away or be arrested.” The organizers asked the crowd to comply and it did.

I later asked a DC police officer who was “guarding” us on the opposite side of the Park about the reason for the forced move. He politely explained that he didn’t know the answer because the order came from the Secret Service and Park Police citing “unspecified security issues.” No one apparently had explained the “security issues” to the DC Police who were also on the scene. I believe this was the work of the Trump White House. Congress should investigate.

The impetus for the rally was the signing of Travel/Muslim Ban 2.0. The language of the Executive Order comprising 2.0 reflects the same hateful and unfounded animus against immigrants that was the essence of Travel Ban 1.0 found constitutionally and otherwise deficient by, among others, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Each EO manifests a desire to keep Muslims out of the United States, as Trump repeatedly promised during his campaign. There is no reason to doubt now that these Executive Orders are the direct implementation of those promises, no matter how dressed up the language in 2.0.

I am an immigrant in every relevant sense. My maternal grandparents came to the United States from Russia in 1906. My father’s parents, it is believed, hailed from the Netherlands. I am therefore only a second generation American. In point of fact, almost everyone in the United States is a descendant of immigrants. According to Quora.com, “The White American average genetic makeup is 98.6% European, 0.19% African, and 0.18% Native American.” http://bit.ly/2mpHEvh. According to the U.S. Census, American Indians and Alaska Natives comprised about 2 percent of the total population in 2014. http://bit.ly/2mjNoEy.

Thus, every anti-immigrant action taken by the xenophobic Trump administration is, at least indirectly, an attack on virtually everyone. It is but a short step from where Trump is now to “show me your bloodlines.” This is truly a situation where if anyone is unsafe, all are unsafe.

One feature of Travel Ban 2.0 not focused on elsewhere to my knowledge is that the time periods for suspension of entry under the two EOs are the same, even though 2.0 was announced more than a month after 1.0 and will not be effective until March 16. The changes made in 2.0 could, it would seem, have been made by one or two competent attorneys in a week’s time or less, even allowing for inter-agency consultation and coordination. That they were not must reflect that 2.0 is a political timing event and that the Trump administration has been sitting on its hands about the “emergency” of “uncontrolled entry” and “unvetted immigrants” while it dawdled with the language and Trump gave his speech to Congress. Thus, 2.0 reflects that no significant progress appears to have been made in the actual review of immigration procedures that are the centerpiece of the supposed rationale for the emergency “temporary” entry restrictions. The administration has certainly not announced any such progress. The procedures and the results of them are surely well known within the government. How can periods of 90 and 120 days be justified for “reviewing procedures?”

Consider also that in the interim between 1.0 and 2.0, Trump proposed to Congress the creation of a new government body inside Homeland Security: Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, or VOICE. It is, as usual, unclear what this entity will do, or how much it will cost taxpayers, but the President has shown no similar solicitude for the victims of “non-immigrant crime” who vastly outnumber those affected by criminal behavior of immigrants. Perhaps Trump will eventually demand that immigrants mark themselves with an “I” so everyone can identify them on sight. Sound familiar? Right out of the Nazi playbook.

DEPORT TRUMP! An Alternate Immigration Policy

Donald Trump, aspiring candidate for the presidency of the United States, has taken the position that an essential element of the solution to the immigration problem in the United States is the forced deportation of some 12 million illegal Mexican immigrants, combined with the construction of a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border, followed by the acceptance back into the U.S. of the “good” Mexicans through a .”big beautiful nice door.” This will be accomplished with the help of a “deportation force.”  We are not making this up. See http://www.donaldjtrump.com/media/donald-trump-we-will-have-a-deportation-force, 11/11/15 This policy will be good for America, Trump asserts, because, among other things, it will be paid for by Mexico and will help “make America great again.”

The “very nice wall” would be at least a short term boon to the construction industry in Texas, and a longer term stimulus to the American arms industry whose products would be needed to defend the wall against the likely incursions that will follow its construction. There will, of course, be a  short-term need to increase police department budgets to provide for the extra manpower needed to track down the many immigrants who will seek, and find, refuge in the homes and other properties of sympathetic Americans who are opposed to the forced expulsion of workers, colleagues and friends identified by the “deportation force” as candidates for removal. This scenario, of course, has some of the attributes of a police state, but, under the Trump scheme, this would presumably only be temporary …. like all the other police states we know about.

There is another option, of course, Several, in fact, but this one stands out for its elegant simplicity, matching the simplicity of Mr. Trump’s solution. The other option is to deport Mr. Trump to Mexico, which has been having a lot of economic and other troubles (e.g., embarrassing prison escapes by drug lords). Mr. Trump’s strength, a storied history of business success which seems to have led to his belief that the government can be run just like a big business, would perhaps be welcomed by Mexico. Even Carlos Slim, the richest man in Mexico, is reported to be losing money recently. See http://wolfstreet.com/2015/08/12/carlos-slim-worlds-2nd-richest-man-mexicos-biggest-oligarch-master-of-slimlandia-loses-billions/

The master of the deal would likely find fertile soil in Mexico for his skills, including showing Mexico how to instantly create a thriving free-market economy. The result would be renewed growth of the Mexican economy, creating new jobs, income growth and all of the other benefits of a consumerist society unbounded. Then, without the expense of a wall, indeed the wall would be counterproductive at this point, Mexican “illegals” would flee the United States in droves, seeking employment and happiness in their home country. Trump’s deportation would solve the U.S. immigration problem without government intervention or force (other than as required to secure Mr. Trump’s removal across the border). If Mexico were as in thrall of Mr. Trump’s solutions as he is, this single act would demonstrate once and for all the benefits of a market economy free of government intervention and could become a model for the future of the United States economy to boot. Everyone wins! Except for those Americans who are dependent upon cheap Mexican and other Latino labor that will have gone elsewhere for better paying jobs.