ICE and CBP don’t care about laws

People who complain about illegal immigrants like to say ‘what part of illegal don’t you understand?’.

The first story, via here, concerns a DACA candidate:

In February 2017, shortly after President Donald Trump unleashed immigration agents to amp up arrests and deportations, ICE agents went to Ramirez’s father’s house in Seattle to arrest him. (The father is undocumented, and brought Ramirez to the U.S. illegally as a child.) While there, they encountered Ramirez and asked him whether he was “legally here.” He responded that he was—a truthful statement given his DACA status, which he had renewed the previous May. Yet ICE officers detained him anyway. They took him to a processing center, where, once again, he told them that he had a work permit.

ICE then interrogated Ramirez, fingerprinted and booked him, confiscated his work permit, sent him to a detention center, and placed him in removal proceedings. It also purported to revoke his DACA status, subjecting him to imminent deportation. Typically, the government may not rescind an individual’s DACA status without giving the beneficiary an opportunity to contest its decision. But ICE claimed that Ramirez’s DACA benefits could be terminated “automatically” because he presented an “egregious public safety concern” due to his alleged gang affiliation. (ICE routinely alleges that Latino immigrants with no indication of gang affiliation are members of a gang in order to detain and deport them.)

A group of renowned attorneys then stepped in to defend Ramirez, arguing that virtually every action ICE had taken against their client was unlawful. They also alleged that ICE’s key claim—that Ramirez is “gang-affiliated”—was a complete falsehood. One of his lawyers, Mark Rosenbaum, presented evidence indicating that ICE had doctored Ramirez’s statement by erasing words he had written in the pencil provided to make it seem as if he had confessed to being in a gang. (The original statement asserts he has no gang affiliation.) During his initial interrogation, ICE officers asked him five times whether he belonged to a gang, and he repeatedly said no.

ICE wanted to deport him so they forged documents and lied in a court of law. People go to jail for that but not ICE because they have broad immunity.

This article lead to another one, this one about the CBP illegally setting up a checkpoint:

The trouble in New Hampshire began in August and September. CBP, which has been emboldened by the Trump administration to resume controversial practices that declined under President Barack Obama, decided to set up a checkpoint in Woodstock. Although the town is 90 miles from Canada, CBP is authorized to conduct searches up to 100 miles from the nearest international border. The ostensible purpose of the checkpoint was to enforce immigration law, and officers demanded proof of citizenship from drivers who passed through. But they also brought drug-sniffing dogs, allegedly to help them “detect concealed humans.”

As the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire later exposed in court, the real purpose of these drug-sniffing dogs was, naturally, to find drugs. But the U.S. attorney for the state does not bring federal charges against those carrying small amounts of cannabis. So CBP asked the Woodstock Police Department to participate in its checkpoint. The two agencies decided to work together. CBP would stop drivers and have a dog sniff their cars. If the dog “signaled,” a CBP officer would search the car. If the officer found drugs, he would hand them off to WPD, which would press charges for drug possession.

This cooperation was a gift to the Woodstock police for two reasons. First, New Hampshire’s marijuana decriminalization law would take effect within just weeks; by working with CBP, local law enforcement could maximize its marijuana prosecutions before it lost the power to arrest cannabis users. Second, and more importantly, the New Hampshire Constitution prohibits canine searches of vehicles without a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity—unlike the federal Fourth Amendment, which permits them. Thus, by teaming up with CBP, the Woodstock police hoped to reap the rewards of searches it could not legally conduct on its own.

“While the stated purpose of the checkpoints in this matter was screening for immigration violations,” the judge wrote, “the primary purpose of the action was detection and seizure of drugs.” CBP agents were “aware of that prior to setting up the checkpoints which is precisely why they felt the need to reach out to the state and local agencies for assistance.” Rappa pointed to emails exchanged between CBP and WPD that make it “patently clear that the primary purpose” of WPD’s presence was to seize their drugs for state prosecution. “As such,” he concluded, “the checkpoints were unconstitutional under both state and federal law.”

And this article leads to yet another one where the CBP illegally ignored a judge’s orders:

That morning, U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs issued a decision in Louhghalam v. Trump barring CBP officers at Boston Logan International Airport from detaining or removing anyone covered by the order. She also explicitly directed CBP to “notify airlines that have flights arriving at Logan Airport” that “individuals on those flights will not be detained or returned based solely on the basis of the Executive Order.”

CBP did the exact opposite of what Burroughs’ ruling required. The OIG investigation found that the agency continued to call airlines and instruct them not to let travelers board planes to the United States if they were covered by the order. It did so despite having full knowledge of Burroughs’ restraining order. 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.

These are just a few of the many cases where the ICE and CBP blatantly break the law. They obviously don’t understand what illegal means.

DeVos likes scammers more than students, Pruitt worries more about bad press than people being poisoned

You find out something terrible from the Trump administration every day. I was going to write about this story about Betsy DeVos yesterday but didn’t get around to it:

Members of a special team at the Education Department that had been investigating widespread abuses by for-profit colleges have been marginalized, reassigned or instructed to focus on other matters, according to current and former employees.

The unwinding of the team has effectively killed investigations into possibly fraudulent activities at several large for-profit colleges where top hires of Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, had previously worked.

During the final months of the Obama administration, the team had expanded to include a dozen or so lawyers and investigators who were looking into advertising, recruitment practices and job placement claims at several institutions, including DeVry Education Group.

The investigation into DeVry ground to a halt early last year. Later, in the summer, Ms. DeVos named Julian Schmoke, a former dean at DeVry, as the team’s new supervisor.

The sheer gall involved is amazing but there’s no time to dwell on it because there’s more of the same today:

Scott Pruitt’s EPA and the White House sought to block publication of a federal health study on a nationwide water-contamination crisis, after one Trump administration aide warned it would cause a “public relations nightmare,” newly disclosed emails reveal.

The intervention early this year — not previously disclosed — came as HHS’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry was preparing to publish its assessment of a class of toxic chemicals that has contaminated water supplies near military bases, chemical plants and other sites from New York to Michigan to West Virginia.

The study would show that the chemicals endanger human health at a far lower level than EPA has previously called safe, according to the emails.

and here’s why it was blocked:

“The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge,” one unidentified White House aide said in an email forwarded on Jan. 30 by James Herz, a political appointee who oversees environmental issues at the OMB. The email added: “The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful. We (DoD and EPA) cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be.”

Yes, they’re more concerned about the political impact than, ya know, people being poisoned.

These are horrible stories but you’re not going to hear about them too much because there will be more tomorrow and pretty every day.

Poor Kirstjen Nielsen

It seems the PC President is upset:

Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, told colleagues she was close to resigning after President Donald Trump berated her Wednesday in front of the entire Cabinet for what he said was her failure to adequately secure the nation’s borders, according to several current and former officials familiar with the episode.

Trump’s anger toward Nielsen at the Cabinet meeting was part of a lengthy tirade in which the president railed at his entire Cabinet about what he said was its lack of progress toward sealing the country’s borders, according to one person who was present at the meeting.

But don’t pity Ms Nielsen, she’s not a very nice person:

Compared to her predecessors, Nielsen’s résumé is conspicuously thin. Prior to joining the Trump Administration, she was a little-known cybersecurity consultant with no major management experience. “In a normal Administration, there isn’t a chance in hell she would get nominated for anything above an undersecretary job,” a former national-security official, who served under George W. Bush, told me.

Over her first three months in the job, Nielsen has showcased her loyalty to the White House that elevated her. In early January, she cancelled the status of two hundred thousand Salvadorans who’ve lived legally in the U.S since 2001. A week later, in sworn testimony, she told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that she couldn’t recall whether the President had used the word “shitholes” to describe African countries during an Oval Office meeting on immigration. Then, in February, Nielsen issued a series of aggressive statements criticizing bipartisan immigration bills that appeared to be gaining support in the Senate. One of the proposals, according to D.H.S., “would effectively make the United States a Sanctuary Nation where ignoring the rule of law is encouraged.”

From 2002 to 2007, Nielsen served in the Bush Administration, where she spent most of her time overseeing domestic disaster-relief-and-prevention policy at the White House. She left for the private sector in the wake of controversy over how the Bush Administration had mishandled its response to Hurricane Katrina. Though two congressional reports faulted Nielsen and her team for failing to inform the White House about breaking developments on the ground in New Orleans, several Administration officials ultimately came to her defense.

One former D.H.S. official told me that it was unsurprising that senior members of the department were leaving: its independence was being undermined. “Nielsen will say and do whatever the White House says,” the official told me.

Even being a sycophant isn’t good enough in this White House.

Anti-poverty programs work

Republicans continually want to cut programs that help the poor saying they don’t work. here’s a counterargument:

In each case, Weber and Wu found that the effect of each program has been materially underestimated by traditional measurements. That’s because the earlier estimates are based on Census Bureau surveys that underreport benefits from these programs. As a result, the authors say, the effects of food stamps and TANF are underestimated by one-third to one-half, and the impact of Social Security is underestimated by as much as 44%. Their research covered 2008-13, the period of the Great Recession.

Meyer and Wu find that Social Security alone has reduced poverty among the elderly by 75%; the other programs do more for non-elderly households, though at lower rates.

The official measurement indicated that the poverty rate fell by a scant 4.4 percentage points from 1960 to 2010, ending at 15.1%. Adjusting for flaws in the measurement however, Meyer and Sullivan determined that the percentage of Americans living in poverty had fallen by more than 26 percentage points, to about 4.5%.

The people who are poor are much better off because of these programs, this won’t matter to Republicans but maybe it will to others.

What part of illegal don’t they understand?

US and international law state that immigrants should not be deported to countries where their lives are in danger:

In the years following the Second World War, the United Nations established a principle of international law known as non-refoulement, or non-return, which forbids the removal of asylum seekers to countries where they are likely to be tortured or killed. The principle was enshrined in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, formalizing the concept of the “refugee” and insuring safe harbor for people who could show “a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” No one with a credible fear of persecution could be expelled “in any manner whatsoever to a territory where he or she fears threats to life or freedom.”

In 1980, Congress incorporated the idea of non-refoulement into the Refugee Act. The act established protocols for vetting and resettling refugees and assured asylum seekers that they would not be treated as criminals, even if they arrived unauthorized in the U.S. The act, which had bipartisan support, was also meant to bolster relationships with allies and to provide a humanitarian model of resettlement for the rest of the world.

The article then gives example after example where people were sent back to countries where they were killed:

Coronilla’s wife begged a federal judge to spare her husband. Gangs had overrun his home town in Mexico, and deportees were prime targets for crime, since they were presumed to have money. Coronilla was deported in June. Three months later, gunmen woke him from the bed where he slept with his young son. According to the Austin American-Statesman, he tried to soothe the boy, saying, “Don’t worry, my love.” His body was found about forty miles away, filled with bullets.

Constantino Morales was a cop in Guerrero, Mexico, until he tried to break up a drug cartel and became a target of violence. He escaped to the U.S. and worked at a Cheesecake Factory in Des Moines, Iowa, and then became a popular laborers’-rights advocate. As with Laura, a minor traffic stop led to his removal, which he initially fought. At a community meeting with Tom Latham, at that time a Republican congressman, Morales said, “If I am sent back, I will face more violence, and I could lose my life.” Morales had applied for asylum a month earlier. He was denied. At the time, the U.S. State Department called Guerrero “the most violent state in Mexico.” Seven months after Morales’s deportation, he was shot and killed.

Not long ago, I met a young mother who asked to be identified by her middle name, Elena. In Honduras, where she grew up, her teen-age brother was murdered by MS-13 for being gay, another brother was killed for refusing to join the gang, and her sister was shot for ignoring a gang leader’s sexual advances after he’d raped and impregnated her. A different gang member began pursuing Elena, and fired shots at her house after she turned him down. She reported the crime to police, and then learned that he was planning further retaliation against her.

Back in her home town, Elena was assaulted at gunpoint by the man she’d fled. He tortured her, holding a lighter to her skin. Other gang members cracked her thirteen-year-old son’s skull. She fled, with her kids, to a tobacco-farming town in western Honduras, where the man who’d been pursuing her found her again. Once more, she escaped to the U.S.

You might think being a citizen would mean you don’t have to worry about this stuff, it doesn’t:

Since 2012, ICE has released from its custody more than 1,480 people after investigating their citizenship claims, according to agency figures. And a Times review of Department of Justice records and interviews with immigration attorneys uncovered hundreds of additional cases in the country’s immigration courts in which people were forced to prove they are Americans and sometimes spent months or even years in detention.

Last April, ICE abandoned a policy that allowed agents to ask local police to detain people born abroad if there was no evidence in the databases showing they were citizens.

That standard, however, persists in immigration court, where those born outside the country must prove why they belong in the U.S.

That’s right, US citizens are presumed to be guilty until proven innocent. I thought the Constitution said something different.

And for fun, here’s the outcome of a citizen who spent 3 extra years in prison because he was presumed not to be a citizen:

The review found the government had misinterpreted an arcane aspect of immigration law. ICE abruptly freed Watson.

Surprised by his unexplained freedom, Watson walked out of a federal detention center in rural Alabama. He recalled how he was penniless, in prison garb and thousands of miles from home when he approached strangers at a gas station to borrow a phone.

Lovely people.

The centennial of the MBTA

2018 is the hundredth year anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act:

The 1918 law was enacted after several species of common birds became extinct; the Audubon Society and other organizations named 2018 the year of the bird in honor of the MBTA’s centennial.

And this is how the Trump administration celebrates it:

In an opinion issued Wednesday to federal wildlife police who enforce the rule, the Interior Department said “the take [killing] of birds resulting from an activity is not prohibited by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act when the underlying purpose of that activity is not to take birds.” For example, the guidance said, a person who destroys a structure such as a barn knowing that it is full of baby owls in nests is not liable for killing them. “All that is relevant is that the landowner undertook an action that did not have the killing of barn owls as its purpose,” the opinion said.

So an oil company can leave an oil waste pit uncovered and not be punished even if it kills thousands of birds per year. I guess this better be the year of the bird, because if the Trump administration has anything to say about it there won’t be nearly as many birds in the future.

The Second Amendment causes illegal immigration

This is an interesting proposition for conservatives:

It’s estimated that some two hundred thousand American guns are smuggled across the southern border each year. The region that’s been hit the hardest is Central America, where gun laws are relatively strict yet homicide rates are among the highest on earth. Gang wars, massive state corruption, and murderous criminal syndicates are to blame for the violence, but American firepower facilitates it. “Unlike other forms of contraband, American weapons don’t just pass through Central America but engulf it in storms of violence,” Mark Ungar, a political-science professor at Brooklyn College and an expert in the region’s gun violence, told me. This violence, in turn, has fuelled a refugee crisis. Since 2014, more than a hundred and fifty thousand unaccompanied immigrant children from countries in the region have fled to the U.S. seeking some form of asylum.

If you don’t like people from Central America trying to get into the US, you need to cut down on gun sales. US guns are the cause of much of the violence:

Seventy per cent of guns recovered by authorities in Mexico, for instance, were originally sold in the U.S.—most of them in Texas, California, and Arizona, according to a Government Accountability Office report. Forty-nine per cent of weapons recovered in El Salvador came from the U.S., compared to forty-six per cent in Honduras and twenty-nine per cent in Guatemala.

So, gangs in Central America make money by selling drugs to the US and then use the money to buy guns in the US. It sounds like the US is directly at fault and needs to take responsibility. I’m sure Republicans will be all over that–haha, sorry I made a funny.

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