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.