Upset About Border Patrol Cruelty? It Didn't Start Under Trump

from the speak-up dept

In the last few weeks, there’s obviously been a lot of attention on the cruel actions of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), a part of the Department of Homeland Security. Slate has an article detailing some of the awful stories coming out after the Trump executive order on immigration and travel (here are just a few):

  • At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, CBP officers reportedly detained an elderly Sudanese woman suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, and severe kidney stones. They refused to provide her attorney or her family with any information on her health, status, or whereabouts. Her attorney later learned that CBP officers had demanded that his client withdraw her request for admission into the United States or be barred from entering the country for five years. She signed the document and was promptly deported. Her family never got to see her.
  • Also at DFW, CBP agents allegedly detained a lawful permanent resident along with her 11-month-old daughter, a U.S. citizen. They refused to let attorneys speak with the mother. When the child?s father came to the CBP office, agents refused to let him see his daughter.
  • CBP officers at Los Angeles International Airport allegedly deported an Iranian student 90 minutes after a federal judge explicitly barred the deportation of anyone targeted by Trump?s order. They ignored efforts by attorneys to halt the deportation.
  • CBP officers at San Francisco International Airport allegedly detained an elderly Iranian couple with valid visitor visas for 30 hours. Nineteen of those hours came after a federal judge halted deportations under Trump?s order. One officer informed the couple?s attorney that they might soon be deported. When the attorney explained that this action would violate a federal court order, the officer responded that he was ?just following orders.?
  • An elderly Iranian couple?both of whom were lawful permanent residents?say they were detained for 10 hours at Chicago?s O?Hare International Airport after returning from their son?s wedding in Iran. The two were denied access to food for the length of their detention. Another elderly person being detained along with the couple was shaking from hunger and nearly passed out. CBP officers refused to inform the couple?s immediate family whether the couple had been allowed to take necessary medications.
  • A complaint to DHS over the implementation of the travel ban noted 26 accounts of abuse by the CBP.

    But here’s the thing: none of this is new, unfortunately. Yes, the specifics of the executive order are new, and the awful plan and rollout by the administration are new, but CBP being arbitrarily cruel to people is not at all new. We’ve reported on it many times in the past. Last week, On the Media put together a collection of stories that it had done in the past about egregious behavior by CBP at the border, almost all of which we covered in the past — and all of which occurred under President Obama.

    There was the horrific treatment of On The Media Producer Sarah Abdurrahman and her family (all US citizens) detained at the US border for hours and treated horribly when trying to return to the US from a wedding in Canada. There’s also the insane story of Pascal Abador, a student studying Shiites in South Lebanon (he’s an atheist himself), who was detained and had his laptop seized while on a train traveling from Canada to the US. CBP found photos on his laptop of Hamas and Hezbollah and then wouldn’t give him back his computer. And then there’s the truly sickening stories (plural) of CBP bringing people to doctors to be horrendously strip searched for drugs, often undergoing hours-long “inspections” by medical professionals despite never turning up any actual drugs. Here’s one example we wrote about, which is similar to, but not the same one discussed in the OTM recording:

    1. Eckert’s abdominal area was x-rayed; no narcotics were found.
    2. Doctors then performed an exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.
    3. Doctors performed a second exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.
    4. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
    5. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a second time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
    6. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a third time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
    7. Doctors then x-rayed Eckert again; no narcotics were found.
    8. Doctors prepared Eckert for surgery, sedated him, and then performed a colonoscopy where a scope with a camera was inserted into Eckert’s anus, rectum, colon, and large intestines. No narcotics were found.

    None of this is to say that what Trump is doing is okay. What he’s doing is expanding the CBP’s power to continue to expand its often arbitrary and capricious activities without any fear of oversight or any sort of reprimand for egregious behavior. But if you’re suddenly concerned with how CBP appears totally free to mistreat basically anyone at the border, at least recognize that it’s been going on for quite some time and that plenty of people (including us) have been trying to call attention to it for years. And don’t assume that just because you’re suddenly hearing these stories in the news, that they’re a new phenomenon. Unfortunately, they are not. Hopefully, greater attention on CBP cruelty will lead to fixing it, but this administration, unfortunately, seems to want to encourage and expand it.

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    Comments on “Upset About Border Patrol Cruelty? It Didn't Start Under Trump”

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    50 Comments
    Anonymous Coward says:

    Re: A raging pitbull is a raging pitbull.

    [citation needed]

    They’ve certainly been given free reign, and arguably an unofficial mandate, but ‘ordered’ is blatant fabrication.

    I’ll grant though,
    the officer responded that he was “just following orders.”
    makes me want to respond with "So was Eichmann, and he swung for it."

    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

    Re: Re: A raging pitbull is a raging pitbull.

    [citation needed]

    Well, here are a few related ‘orders’:

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/25/executive-order-border-security-and-immigration-enforcement-improvements

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/27/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/27/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/09/presidential-executive-order-preventing-violence-against-federal-state

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/09/presidential-executive-order-enforcing-federal-law-respect-transnational

    DHS/CPB employees probably do not necessarily have advanced degrees, nor have I heard anything about the necessity for their having to possess the ability to reason, or parse complex subjects. Besides, USSC has told them they don’t actually have to know the laws they enforce. There may be upper levels of management or supervision who tell the rank and file, or line level supervisors to ‘take care of business’ which comes close enough to an order to make those lower level employees take whatever action they deem fit.

    Not that they should.

    Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

    Re: Re: Re:2 A raging pitbull is a raging pitbull.

    She said they are “related” EOs, now settle down and watch an old episode of The Apprentice till your ruffled feathers have been smoothed, wodun.

    Read the comment again. tl;dr: border guards are thick gits because they’re not properly educated, trained or supervised and that’s by design, presumably because it’s cheaper than hiring intelligent, educated people and keeping an eye on them to ensure they treat people properly.

    BernardoVerda (profile) says:

    Re: Re: A raging pitbull is a raging pitbull.

    Why the pit bull hate?

    It’s not pit-bull hate.
    It’s an observation that they behave like pit-bulls,
    — and an implication that they need to be subjected to a similar degree of training, discipline and control (which they clearly aren’t receiving) to keep their behaviour within the bounds considered acceptable even for dogs.

    timmaguire42 (profile) says:

    Some of these are outrageous (the 2nd bullet point for instance), others are just the CBP doing their job (1st and 3rd, for instance). They do still have a job to do, you know. And the judge only ordered that people not be deported based on Trump’s EO, he did not order that people not be deported. Only a fool would think that.

    Sok Puppette (profile) says:

    Re: First bullet point

    Telling somebody that you’ll ban them from the country for 5 years if they don’t withdraw a request for admission is not doing their job. Especially when it’s a naive person whom you are holding incommunicado.

    It is, however, deprivation of civil rights under color of authority, and you can get a Federal prison sentence for it. Which is what should be happening to a lot of these people and their bosses.

    Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

    Not just the US

    I’ve been detained for hours with no explanation by both Canadian and British Customs in the last fifteen years.

    They (and US officers) all have “bad attitude”, and anything but instant, sniveling compliance will get you detained – even if you didn’t comply because you’re hard of hearing and asked them to repeat something.

    I suspect it’s no different in any other country.

    That One Guy (profile) says:

    Re: Re: Re: Not just the US

    And the article did that where again?

    Mentioning when something is screwed up without also mentioning ‘Hey, this also happens in other places’ is not ‘singl[ing] out the US’, it’s pointing out that there’s a problem in the US.

    The US BP is acting like a band of thugs. That this might happen elsewhere does not make their actions any better, nor does calling them out on this require one the one doing so o include asides about how other, similar groups also have a tendency to act like thugs too.

    Anonymous Coward says:

    Re: Not just the US

    gotta say i wholeheartedly agree, as someone who was detained for trying to legally enter my own country of origin, on a one-way ticket whilst living abroad. I found their suspicious attitude toward so gratuitous that I just had to laugh – couldn’t help it – which I feel was 90% of the reason why I ended up being detained. I can also remember seeing instructions on a US entry form to the effect that laughing at or making jokes about the entry requirements was reason enough to be detained. Jokes and laughter may be annoying, but a national security threat ffs??

    Stuff like this makes border staff the most hated people on the planet, after tax collectors. And it also makes it all the more important not to give them ANY extraordinary powers to harass and bully people on their way in & out of the country… which Trump has done. So, while this harassment has always existed, that it has gotten worse under him is an indisputable fact. IME these people LOVE “just following orders”. The more cruel and arbitrary they are, the better.

    Anonymous Coward says:

    Re: Re:

    Now this is a perfect example of a troll. The commenter is responding to something similar to what is being discussed, but different enough to invite correction.

    Next the comment itself is peppered with colourful or pejorative adjectives to reinforce the extremes it is using to make a point. This signals an unreasonable stance to the reader, which can be frustrating.

    Finally the comment finishes by directly addressing the author and posing an absurd hypothetical. Though I think they could have gone further than the one used. Perhaps something like ‘I wonder how much Mr masnick would whine if we all die of super communist Ebola if we just let all those nasty third world fifth column grandmother’s in.”

    Anonymous Coward says:

    What's the solution then?

    All these DHS staffers live in houses and apartments away from the entry points. They can all be found. They can all be taken and dealt with appropriately. None of them are in protected compounds or under 24 hour protected observation.

    If they start to disappear for a time and suffer similar consequences, how long do you think it will take for them to make changes to their procedures?

    Even if they were to become fully monitored, this takes away resources that are being used elsewhere for other non-beneficial purposes.

    Many of these workers have families themselves. These family members now become target for retribution.

    The unintended consequences are huge and the number of ancillary people affected increases. This applies to all of those who occupied in all such positions, including LEO’s of all kinds.

    Once the fuse is lit, it will be very difficult to stop the explosion and civil war will erupt.

    As history has shown many times before, once the affected segment of society reached a critical level then those in power lose badly. All because those affected no longer have anything to lose.

    Edgar H. would be proud of his legacy, as would John M. Every nation that loses its way, falls and falls far.

    David Oliver Graeme Samuel Offenbach

    Anonymous Coward says:

    Re: Re: What's the solution then?

    This will be the unintended consequences. They do and then they suffer the same.

    What’s that golden rule? Do unto others as you want done to yourself. or a rephrase: Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to yourself.

    Well, they do this stuff until it becomes the reciprocating actions of others.

    Of course, making the warning usually gets the messenger killed.

    David Oliver Graeme Samuel Offenbach

    David Pittelli says:

    Re: Adding Insult to Injury

    OK, but let us also not forget that Eckert won a $1.6 million judgement for the abusive treatment he endured. So such behavior isn’t tolerated by the overall system.

    Further, while the government’s treatment of Eckert was stupid and evil, and the treatment was related to the proximity (~30 miles) to Mexico, it wasn’t, contra the headline above, Border Patrol doing this; it was the Deming NM Police Department, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and a judge (who signed off on a cavity search warrant).

    Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

    Re: Re: Adding Insult to Injury

    In other words, authoritarianism is everybody’s problem. Bullies are attracted to jobs that give them power over other people. The more power they have, the more supervision they require.

    It’s best to assume all authority figures are prone to corruption and keep an eye on them as it can hit us all hard in the pocket when a hacked-off victim takes the police, etc., to court for abusing them. While some bad actors may lose their jobs from time to time, per TD reports this isn’t necessarily permanent as they can get similar jobs elsewhere. Therefore, when taxes go up to pay for “law enforcement” or “security” you can be assured that a fair chunk o’ that is for compensating victims of abuse.

    What I don’t understand is how border guards who commit these abuses continue to do so even after they’ve had bad press. While individuals might not be identified, surely to goodness making the whole team look bad reflects badly on team leaders, etc. Do they revel in bad press, or something? Serious question.

    Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

    Re: Re:

    Oh, Buck… learn what words mean. Trump is a Fascist. Go and look it up.

    Socialism is a political system and is as good or as bad as the people running it. This is the same of every political system. Is it me or does “Socialist” mean “Boogeyman” in America?

    Seriously, I can easily imagine you putting your kids to bed, saying, “If you don’t go to sleep this instant, Timmy, the socialists will come, take all your toys away, and give them to the refugees!”

    Anonymous Coward says:

    Re: Re: Re:

    Despots have a way of interpreting almost any system or situation as a tyranny. Hitler was allegedly socialist, Trump is allegedly a capitalist. Neither of them is anything but a despot, hiding behind the mantle of a system that represents ‘the people’s will’. The labels they choose prove nothing except their own cunning: obviously, people will accept a tyrant more readily when he claims to have their best interests in mind, rather than his own.

    Baron von Robber says:

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Trump behaves like an African dictator, according to Trevor Noah from The Daily Show. In an interview on NPR, he said,

    “Doing what I do now, I’ve come to realize now more so than ever that I have to approach what I do every day on The Daily Show with complete honesty. Funny enough, one of the biggest moments of realization was when Donald Trump won the election. Because when I came into the show, I said, “I think this guy can win.” This is when he first came down that escalator and gave his first speech. … And then I was like, “Wow, this guy is going to do well.” I remember then people laughed at me. …

    I’ve seen this before. I have seen clowns that go on to take over their countries. I’ve seen buffoons who end up ruling their worlds. And it came to pass, and I’ve just come to realize I’m going to share my point of view.”

    “In South Africa … a government, very successfully, convinced the majority of a population that every single person there was blocking the other people from achieving greatness in the country, only to realize that we were all being oppressed at the same time.”

    Anonymous Coward says:

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    “hiding behind the mantle of a system that represents ‘the people’s will’.”

    Maybe this is why he gets so upset at
    – his poll numbers
    – tv ratings
    – popular vote
    – inauguration numbers
    – women marching
    – SNL ratings

    Living in an alternative reality can be quite stressful and confusing, but I am not going to feel sorry for the idiot.

    Ananomos says:

    Cruelty of border patrol

    How dare the govt border patrol d story the water containers meant
    To help the people coming from other countries
    This is criminal on the part of the govt and will hurt and know ll those people who need the water to survive
    Shame on our govt they are no different then actions of the holocast
    Americans look like killers
    Our reputation worldwide has been destroyed by a crazy president
    He should be talked out of office immediately

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