Did you know that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has to, each year since the Barack Obama administration, meet a quota of 400,000 deportation? Did you know that the process of deporting illegal immigrants cost $12,500 per deportee (Camarota)? Which means, for the last 10 years, the United States has spent 50 billion dollars in deportation costs (Vice News). It explains why President Donald Trump is emboldened to ask the House of Representative for $5 billion, since we spend the exact same amount in
deportation alone every year.
My name is Beatrice Noel and I am a Junior at Johnson & Wales University. I have been assigned to research the impact of Immigration Enforcement on American families and communities. But along that inquest I have found also multiple unreported cases where American citizens were subjected to either verbal or physical abuses by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. And as we are bracing for the next futile government shutdown, I couldn’t help thinking what would Americans think now of those same Homeland Security and Immigration employees that they donate food and money to because they felt so bad for them?
Under the Barack Obama administration, Homeland Security was getting a yearly average budget of $20 billion dollars (USA Today). Now, under Donald Trump administration, the agency is offered a budget of $47.5 billion, including the $1.6 billion to support the 65 miles Southern border wall (dhs.gov). However, America, you need to understand what your president is billing you for: Did you know that between 2012 and 2015, there have been 2,178 complaints of misconduct filed against the U.S. Customs and
Borders officers by tourists and American citizens combined? Did you know that 95.9 percent of them resulted with “no action” taken against those officers (American Immigration Council)? And those cases registered are only the ones that were reported. We need to have a serious conversation about our Immigration Enforcement policies. My objective, after you finish reading this article, America, is for you to realize that it is time for our policy makers to amend the immigration laws, in order to better protect the average, law-abiding, taxpaying American citizen constitutional rights from future corrupt Immigration and Custom Enforcement officers. Those are the topics that we will elaborate on in this article:
● The reality about our illegal immigration problem
● The impact of Civil Asset Forfeiture law
● The impact of border patrol on Native Americans living by the Southern border
● Muslim Americans are constantly targeted
● Sexual assault by T.S.A. agents are common
● Theft and unwarranted surveillance
● Immigration and Customs were not created in the American interest
● Donald Trump, the catalysis of American xenophobia
The reality about our Illegal Immigration problem
Since the year 2000, there has been a significant decrease of illegal entries of immigrants by the Southern borders (Qiu). That may be because illegal immigrants have found other means to get in and stay in the United states. Some illegal immigrants actually fly in the United States legally and simply overstay the duration of their visas. 16% are Asian (MPI). In January 2019, the Federal Bureau of Investigation along with the Department of Homeland Security have declared a new risk to American national security:
In 2015, both agencies raided Chinese business, “USA Happy Baby,” in Santa Ana, California, where they arrested and charged 20 people for “coaching pregnant Chinese women on how to get into the United States and deliver babies that would automatically enjoy all the benefits of American citizenship” (Taxin). The owner, Dongyuan Li, made millions by gathering payments between $40,000 and $80,000 per mother who would come and stay in an upscale apartment in California until their due date. It is deemed a national security risk because the Secret Services claim that some of the perpetrators arrested were working for the Chinese government while securing American citizenship for the children who once 21 could have sponsored their parents for green cards (Taxin). But we also guessed the dilemma unmasked by the agencies: so far, it was the only company, and the only nationality that got caught, while publicizing their criminal plot on the news
could inspire more perpetrators to attempt the same scheme.
In another event, two African impostors were caught trying to enter Washington D.C. airport using fake passports. One was a 26-year-old Congolese man, in possession of a French passport coming in from Sao Paulo, Brazil, while the other, a Ghanaian woman using an American passport. They got caught thanks to the new facial recognition technology installed at Dulles Airport, a few days prior to their arrival in the States (Fox News). It would have been deemed a success story for Customs and Border Protection until the ACLU pointed out that the Facial Recognition system tends to “flag and misidentify minorities disproportionately.” But is it truly the system flagging minorities since people are operating it?
Albeit, in July 2018, America’s Voice published an article, calling U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the “Most out-of-control enforcement agency” in the United States. Based on an article by the Atlantic, 140 U.S. Border Patrol agents, in the last 10 years, have been fired by the Department of Homeland Security for corruption and connections to drug cartels (Raff). There is even an incident published by the New York Times where, on June 20, 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents shut down, for eleven hours, all southbound lanes of Interstate 95 in Maine and in New Hampshire to harass drivers, search their vehicles, and inquire about their citizenship (Haag). Meanwhile, illegal immigrants are still flying in, forging passports and plotting to breed immigrant babies on American soil.
The impact of Civil Asset Forfeiture law
Civil Asset Forfeiture is a law that allows Law Enforcement officers to seize whatever cash or other form of currency you carry on you legally with no warrant needed, even if you are neither a suspect nor charged of any crime. In 2015, the Washington Post revealed that the U.S. Treasury and Justice departments reported a deposit of more than $5 billion in asset forfeiture funds (Ingraham). On Halloween 2017, registered nurse Antonia Nwaoire, an American citizen since 1994, was planning to travel to Imo, Nigeria, where she wanted to open a medical clinic with the money she tried to save for 30 years. Instead, she was aggressively harassed by U.S. Custom and Border Protection agents, her luggage slashed, and the $41,377 that she saved for the clinic was seized, at the George Bush International Airport, in Houston, Texas (Sibilla). On May 31, 2018, yet again, Rustem Kazazi, an American citizen since 2010, was trying to catch his flight to Albania, at the Hopkins International Airport, in Cleveland, carrying $58,000 that he had saved over the years to build a vacation home for his family. He was, with no probable cause, detained, harassed, and his 12 years of saving seized by U.S. Border Patrol, no warrant necessary. The only reason Kazazi, just like other Albanian Americans traveling, was carrying the large sum, was because he feared of being extorted or worse if he would have tried to wire the money once in Albania. In 2017 alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, abusing of Civil Asset Forfeiture law, because that is how the judges are calling it, has seized more than two billion dollars from unfortunate passengers being picked for searches (Ingraham). However, we have yet to find similar seizure complaints among Western European nationals like the French, United Kingdom, German or Swedish travelers. The impact of border patrol on Native Americans living by the Southern border
“They just ran me over, bro.” That was what Paulo Remes, a Native American of the Tohono O’odham Nation, said when he fell on the ground, after being hit by a U.S. Border Patrol SUV on a dirt road near Topowa, in Arizona. Bizarrely, when Remes saw the vehicle coming, he walked outside, knowing exactly what the Border Patrol agents were going to do (Celaya). In a statement, the next day, Remes’ mother, Juanita Remes, outraged, accused U.S. Border Patrol of taking “human life for granted.” The Tohono O’odham Nation, on Twitter, posted: “This is an example of the fear O’odham have to face every day because Border Patrol ravages our communities and are careless with our lives” (Greenwood).
The problem is that the Tohono O’odham Nation reservation is located between borders which poses difficulties for the U.S. Border Patrol to curb illegal entries of immigrants (Greenwood). Paulo Remes is actually the second American citizen and member of the Tohono O’odham tribe to be run down by a U.S. Border Patrol SUV. On January 9, 2002, around 4:15 in the morning, 19-year-old Bennett Patricio Jr, wearing dark clothes and sneakers, lay in a semi-fetal position, in the middle of Federal Route 20. Border Patrol agent Cody Rouse, driving in that direction, claimed to not have not seenhim, ran him over, while his vehicle dragged Patricio’s body more than 60 feet, crushing all his ribs and his skull and killing him instantly (Angelita Ramon, et al. vs. United States of America).
The teenager was found to be intoxicated and wrong to lay in the middle of the road but had not U.S. Border Patrol continuously trespassed Tohono O’odham Nation’s reservation, Bennett Patricio Jr would not have lost his life that night.
Muslim Americans are constantly targeted
On January 1, 2017, a New York couple, Akram Shibly and Kelly McCormick, both born in the U.S., was returning to the United States from a trip to Toronto. As they got to the border, with no probable cause, they got stopped by Customs and Border officers where Shibly was tackled by several of them and held in a tight chokehold. His cellphone along with his girlfriend’s cellphone were seized by force and searched warrantlessly (NBC News). Besides Shibly, twenty-five more cases of American citizens forced to surrender their phones and passwords to Customs and Border Protection were investigated by NBC News. Those victims were required to reveal their religion and the ethnicity they were affiliated with, even though they weren’t in any way suspects. And the parallel existing between all those cases is that all the individuals interrogated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection were Muslim.
The son of the great boxer and champion of Civil Rights, now 45-years-old, Muhammed Ali Jr, on February 7, 2017, was held himself for two hours by immigration officers at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport. Ali Jr arrived from Montego Bay, Jamaica where he gave a speech for Black History month. When detained, he was repeatedly questioned about his name, about Islam and about where he was born, even though Ali Jr was born and raised in the United States, in Philadelphia (Lerner).
Sexual assaults by T.S.A. agents are common
Remember when in December 2016, CNN political commentator Angela Rye had her private parts manhandled by a T.S.A. agent and it made national news? How about the mom who’s a breast cancer survivor who had a T.S.A. agent inserting fingers in her private parts, while other passengers are watching, even after she desperately insisted to go again through the scanner (Rye)? In Celeste’s situation, on her way to travel to Minnesota, when she didn’t want to go through the scanners, she had several male T.S.A. agents cheering about who was going to touch her. One of them pulled her aside to do the search, and her private parts also were penetrated right in front of other passengers, while Transportation Security Administration policy claims that only same sex agents can search passengers with a back-hand pat-down (PNC Minnesota).
There is also the case of Maxi Oquendo, a TSA agent who, on August 2015, dared to strip-search a 21-year-old college student in the airport bathroom because the woman stepped off the plane, when TSA officers are forbidden to conduct pat-downs outside of checkpoint areas and without a witness present. Oquendo was immediately fired, arrested and charged with second-degree unlawful imprisonment, official misconduct, third-degree sexual abuse and second-degree harassment (Sanchez). That same year, several TSA agents were being investigated and fired across the country for getting caught in perverted schemes to pat-down attractive passengers (Harrington).
Theft and unwarranted surveillance
Since 2003, dozens of T.S.A agents have been fired every year for stealing goods and cash from passengers’ luggage (Russia Today). The latest caught was Alexander Shae Johnson, 22 years old, at the Orlando International Airport, in Florida, on June 26, 2017 (Moye). The agency has been also, last summer, under public scrutiny for conducting unwarranted surveillance on random flight passengers. Any change of patterns, twitching, sweating or of behavior while on the flight will instantly trigger T.S.A. agents or air-marshals to surveil you at the airport and on the plane (Bovard).
Immigration and Customs were not created in the American interest
From its establishment in 1875 by the U.S. Supreme court, our Immigration focus has never been the American people’s interest but to keep non-white immigrants from coming in. When the forefathers of our Independence fought for our nation’s freedom in 1776, they were not thinking about non-white American citizens. It was only years after the Civil War, in 1870, that citizenship was finally granted to the free African slaves through the Naturalization Act (USA Facts). And when America finally became inclusive of all cultures, it was in the 1960’s when a series of revolutions such as the Hippie movement, the Civil Rights movement, the Sexual Revolution emerged, urging our nation to change. But, of course, after the attack on September 11, 2001, the United States became obsessed with Mexican gang lords and Arab terrorist crossing its Southern borders. The only problem is that instead of serving and protecting the American people as U.S. Customs and Borders Protection and U.S. Border Patrol agencies were created for, their agents seem to apply the enforcement of the immigration laws to abuse and harass American Citizens. Donald Trump, the catalysis of America’s Xenophobia Based on Peter Enns article, “Clarifying the Role of Racism in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election”, researchers are assuming that American’s growing Xenophobia started as Donald Trump was running for the presidential election year of 2016, when in fact, there has been underreported accounts of abuses by U.S. Border Patrol and by U.S.
Customs and Border Protection officers since the first mandate of George W. Bush’s administration(Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism). Every Republican running for office, since that administration, have exploited that resentment of immigrants, maintaining a narrative of building stronger walls and stronger immigration patrol. Every election year, a spike of hate-crimes has been registered by the FBI, but in November 2016, the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, at the California State University has noticed an apparent increase of 20%. It is not surprising if we find that same feeling of xenophobia, along with that fear of Muslims, amplified by the election of Donald Trump, cultured among agents of Homeland Security, who instead of protecting the American interest from illegal entries, now they are found verbally and physically abusing non-white American citizens.
We can use as an example, this incident where two American citizens of Hispanic descent almost got detained by a U.S. Border Patrol agent at a gas station in Havre, Montana, in May 2018. The two women, Ana Suda and Mimi Hernandez, were having a conversation while waiting in line to pay for their items at the gas station. Because they were talking in Spanish, they suddenly had a U.S. Border Patrol agent coming out of nowhere to interrogate them. To prove their nationality, the agent insisted on them showing identification and he questioned them for almost 40 minutes. One of the women, Suda, feeling so uncomfortable by the approach, recorded the event that was shared on Facebook (Wang).
There is a serious concern about the National Security of the American people when the officers we pay our taxes for to protect us are using the legal system to abuse and rob us. Tohono O’odham Nation, after the Border Patrol attack on one of their tribe members, also posted that they wished “the exposure of the act would contribute to greater justice for O’odham families and all victims of Border Patrol,” including illegal immigrants. On Facebook, Remes sister asked: “If you can do this to an enrolled tribal member of a federally recognized tribe and a U.S. citizen in this country… how do you really treat the people who do cross through there” (Rivas)? And therefore, it begs the question, how do U.S. Border Patrol treat everybody else who cross the border and that
are not illegal immigrants? Because on September 2014, the Canadian Government had to post an official alert for its citizens traveling the U.S. border warning them from U.S. enforcement officers, including Border Patrol, “from federal agents to state troopers right down to sheriff,” participating in unwarranted harassment, search and seizure of cash from Canadian victims (Mcdonald). There have been 61,000 of those incidents since 9/11. And Canadian tourists have been scammed of $2.5 billion (RT America).
We need to address our Immigration and Customs Enforcement policies, not only by having mainstream news focus more on those unfortunate incidents but also by exercising our constituent duty to pressure our executive power and policy makers to create more appropriate guidelines that better protects the American people’s constitutional rights from corrupt Homeland Security and Immigration officers.
American Immigration Council, Cantor, Guillermo, et al, “Still no action taken: complains against Border Patrol agents continue to go unanswered,” August 2, 2017
Bovard, James, “Have you gained or lost weight? Congrats, TSA is now tracking you for suspicious activity,” USA Today, July 31, 2018
Camarota, Steven A., “Deportation vs. the cost of letting illegal immigrants stay,” Center for Immigration Studies, August 2007
Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, “Final U.S. status report: Hate crime analysis & forecast for 2016/2017,” California State University, 2018
Celaya, Eddie, “They ran me over, bro’: Video shows Border Patrol vehicle appear to hit man on Tohono O’odham land,” The Arizona Daily Star, Tuscon.com, June 16, 2018
Department of Homeland Security, “Budget will advance DHS priorities,” February 12, 2018
Enns, Peter K., “Clarifying the Role of Racism in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election: Opinion Change, Anti-Immigrant Sentiment, and Vote Choice,” Cornell University, 2018
Fox News, “Airport’s facial recognition technology catches 2 people attempting to enter US illegally,” Airports, September 12, 2018
Greenwood, Max, “Video shows border patrol car hitting Native American man and driving away,” News, The Hill, June 16, 2018
Haag, Matthew, “Border Patrol agents shut down highways in Maine and New Hampshire with checkpoints,” The New York Times, June 22, 2018
Harrington, Jason Edward, “Former TSA agent: groping scandal is business as usual,” National Security, Ideas, Time, April 15, 2015
Ingraham, Christopher, “A 64-year-old put his life savings in his carry-on. U.S. Customs took it without charging him with a crime.” Analysis, Wonkblog, The Washington Post, March 31, 2018
Ingraham, Christopher, “Law enforcement took more stuff from people than burglars did last year,” Economic Policy, The Washington Post, November 23, 2015
Lerner, Danielle, “Muhammad Ali Jr. detained by immigration officials at Fla. Airport,” USA Today Network, February 24, 2017
Mcdonald, Neil, “American shakedown: Police won’t charge you, but they’ll grab your money,” Analysis, Moye, David, “TSA agent accused of stealing money from traveler’s luggage – The agent
had a bulge in his shirt pocket that police say was money from a woman’s bag,” Weird News, Huffington Post, June 26, 2017
MPI, “Profile of the unauthorized population: United States,” Data Hub, Migration Policy Institute, 2016
NBC News, McFadden, Cynthia, et al, “American citizens: U.S. Border agents can search your cellphone,” U.S. News, March 13, 2017
PNC Minnesota, “Rape survivor devastated by TSA enhanced pat down,” November 8, 2010
Qiu, Linda, “Border crossing have been declining for years, despite claims of a ‘crisis of Illegal Immigration’,” Fact check of the day, Politics, The New York Times, June 20 th , 2018
Raff, Jeremy, “The Border Patrol’s corruption problem,” Politics, The Atlantic, May 5 th , 2017
Rivas, Jorge, “Video shows Border Patrol allegedly running over Native American man on reservation,” Immigration, Splinter, June 15, 2018
RT America YouTube channel, “American police scammed Canadian visitors out of $2.5 billion,” YouTube, September 14, 2014
Russia Today, “Ex-TSA agent: we steal from travelers all the time,” USA News, September 30, 2012
Rye, Angela, “Dear TSA: the country is not safer because you grab vaginas,” CNN, December 22, 2016
Sanchez, Ray, “New York TSA worker accused of sexually abusing passenger,” CNN, August 29, 2015
Sibilla, Nick, “Customs agents seize cash nurse saved to build medical clinic, but never charged her with a crime,” Forbes, May 15, 2018
Taxin, Amy, “20 charged in Chinese birth tourism crackdown,” Associated Press News, January 21, 2019
USA Facts, “History of Immigration in the US – How has immigration in the US changed over the years?” July 26, 2018
USA Today, “Obama administration spent $18B on immigration enforcement,” January 7, 2013
Vice News YouTube Channel, “Immigrant America: the high cost of deporting parents,” YouTube, March 19, 2014
Wang, Amy B., “Two American were detained by a Border Patrol agent after he heard them speaking Spanish,” Post Nation, The Washington Post, May 21, 2018