By focusing on tearing apart families on the southern border, [Border Patrol] make interrogations at a checkpoint far from any border seem downright neighborly in contrast.
By Susan Grigsby / Daily Kos
Perhaps it is because I have only lived in Maine for a year and a half, and everything is still new to me, that I hadn’t really noticed the massive influx of Canadians trying to escape from their homeland by illegally crossing our northern border. True, it is a little warmer down here during the winter. And Maine has legalized recreational marijuana, so perhaps these undocumented immigrants were too impatient to wait for October and Canadian legalization.
Or, they have simply tired of life in a country that provides health care to its citizens, that has civilized laws and whose citizens welcome their neighbors in times of trouble. I mean, who doesn’t want to pay higher prices for medications?
Whatever their reasons, apparently this flood of undocumented immigrants has our Department of Homeland Security (DHS) deeply concerned. Border Patrol agents have been sent here to Maine to protect us from the invading horde that is for some unknown reason crossing our border without authorization. Checkpoints have been set-up on 1-95 north of Bangor, Maine, and on I-93 in New Hampshire to counter this apparent threat.
Such immigration checkpoints on highways have been used by the Border Patrol for years, often along popular smuggling and drug-trafficking routes in the Southwest. But their frequency has increased under President Trump, federal officials have said. The one in Maine was set up several days after agents conducted a three-day checkpoint on a New Hampshire highway, at least the second checkpoint in that state this year.
“Papers please” is no longer the province of Nazis, but is now the official policy of the current Republican government of the United States.
This struck me as being a barely believable tale, a jogger, with no luggage, not even a purse, being treated as some sort of smuggler or undocumented immigrant? Really? And then I saw a picture of the Frenchwoman. Her skin was black.
A 19-year-old French citizen was visiting her mother in Canada when she went jogging along the Pacific Ocean near White Rock, south of Vancouver, last month. Jogging south, she unknowingly crossed an unmarked border into the United States. When she stopped to take a picture of the view before turning back, she was approached by Border Patrol officers demanding to see her documents. Planning only on jogging, she was carrying no travel papers.
Taken into custody by the Border Patrol, she was sent south to a detention center in Tacoma, Washington. She remained in US custody for two weeks before being released back into Canada. This struck me as being a barely believable tale, a jogger, with no luggage, not even a purse, being treated as some sort of smuggler or undocumented immigrant? Really?
And then I saw a picture of the Frenchwoman. Her skin was black. Of course, trained Border Patrol agents know that they are not to racially profile people, so the color of her skin likely had no bearing on her detention. Surely not. It never would. According to the Border Patrol, it was her responsibility to know where the border was and to avoid it.
The Border Patrol has been out of control for years, and last week the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to approve an increase in its size. Because adding more poorly trained agents to a team that was already poorly trained will fix everything.
Three years ago I wrote about the problems that the Border Patrol was having policing itself. Actually, it wasn’t having any serious problems policing itself, because it simply wasn’t doing it. The rank-and-file, represented by the notoriously right-wing National Border Patrol Council, was poorly trained and lightly supervised.
The turmoil at the agency was assisted, if not encouraged, by the right-wing Congress that took five years to confirm President Obama’s choice as its head. When Gil Kerlikowske, a long-time law enforcement official finally took over, he had to fight his own staff, eventually appealing to Jeh Johnson, head of Homeland Security, in order to make an innocuous statement about a terrible crime committed by a Border Patrol agent that I wrote about in 2015.
The current turmoil on the border and the inhumane policies of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice have clear roots in the early half of this decade.
Not only did these unions support Trump’s candidacy, they practically worship him today, and he appears to return the fawning love.
The National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) and its right-wing companion union, the National ICE Council (NIC), claim to represent 18,000 and 7,600 agents, respectively. Both operations have been fighting to close our southern border rather than fighting to protect the rights and jobs of their members.
The Center for New Community issued a report in 2015, “Blurring Borders: Collusion between Anti-Immigrant Groups and Immigration Enforcement Agents,” in which they looked at the growing ties between the unions and a trio of anti-immigration organizations. The trio, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and NumbersUSA are all linked by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in its report, “The Nativist Lobby: Three Faces of Intolerance,” and all are connected through their founder, John Tanton. The SPLC describes him:
Although Tanton has been linked to racist ideas in the past — fretting about the “educability” of Latinos, warning of whites being out-bred by others, and publishing a number of white nationalist authors — the papers in the Bentley Library show that Tanton has for decades been at the heart of the white nationalist scene. He has corresponded with Holocaust deniers, former Klan lawyers and the leading white nationalist thinkers of the era. He introduced key FAIR leaders to the president of the Pioneer Fund, a white supremacist group set up to encourage “race betterment” at a 1997 meeting at a private club. He wrote a major funder to encourage her to read the work of a radical anti-Semitic professor — to “give you a new understanding of the Jewish outlook on life” — and suggested that the entire FAIR board discuss the professor’s theories on the Jews. He practically worshipped a principal architect of the Immigration Act of 1924 (instituting a national origin quota system and barring Asian immigration), a rabid anti-Semite whose pro-Nazi American Coalition of Patriotic Societies was indicted for sedition in 1942.
As early as 1969, Tanton showed a sharp interest in eugenics, the “science” of breeding a better human race that was utterly discredited by the Nazis, trying to find out if Michigan had laws allowing forced sterilization. His interest stemmed, he wrote in a letter of inquiry that year, from “a local pair of sisters who have nine illegitimate children between them.” Some 30 years later, he was still worrying about “less intelligent” people being allowed children, saying that “modern medicine and social programs are eroding the human gene pool.”
In their report on Blurring Borders, the Center for New Community points out the similarity in the positions of the unions to the nativist lobby. On June 25, 2014, the president of the NCBP, Brandon Judd, in his testimony to Congress, echoed the policy positions of both FAIR and CIS.
In his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on June 25, 2014, Judd presented several policy proposals identical to those advocated for by the anti-immigrant movement. Judd focused particularly on two themes: (1) ending prosecutorial discretion and (2) denying certain civil rights to Central American migrants.
If these proposals sound pretty much like Trump’s recent tweets, there should be no surprise. Not only did these unions support Trump’s candidacy, they practically worship him today, and he appears to return the fawning love.
After President Obama announced his executive order on Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012, the nativists searched for someone who had standing to sue the government. They found a willing accomplice in Chris Crane, president of the National ICE Council, to bring suit against President Obama, falsely claiming that DACA represented Executive branch overreach. The suit was dismissed in 2015, which is no surprise when one realizes that Crane was represented by none other than Kris Kobach, who has just recently been assigned a summer school class on civil procedure by a judge in yet another case that he lost.
Before Kobach became notorious as the Kansas Secretary of State and illegally forced many valid voters off of Kansas rolls, he was a leading light of the nativist hate movement, writing Arizona’s infamous “Papers please” law, SB1070. When the Blurring Borders report was written in 2015 it reported on Kobach:
Kris Kobach currently serves as “Of Counsel” to the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Over the last decade, Kobach has become one of the most important minds behind the anti-immigrant movement’s efforts to pass discriminatory policies. In addition to authoring and defending notorious legislation like SB 1070, Kobach has also worked to implement anti-immigrant housing ordinances that have cost local municipalities millions to defend in court. Kobach claims he conducts his anti-immigrant advocacy on his own time while also fulfilling his duties as Kansas Secretary of State. When Kansas immigrant rights activists peacefully protested Kobach’s anti-immigrant efforts, he disclosed his true disdain for immigrants calling the protesters a “mob” whose actions evidence “a reason we have the Second Amendment.”
Not only is our current attorney general a racist, he is an admirer of hate groups
As a result of losing the lawsuit against the president, Chris Crane became a popular spokesman for the trio of hate groups (the right wing loves to be victims) and was strongly supported by Senator Jeff Sessions who sat on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on immigration. He urged the Obama White House to talk to Crane.
Sessions himself has been lauded by the anti-immigrant movement for his efforts to obstruct reform legislation. Sessions has reciprocated the movement’s admiration by speaking at anti-immigrant events, promoting the organizations’ work in press releases, and even commending NumbersUSA’s on their 15th anniversary during a 2012 Senate floor speech. Sessions formalized his working relationship with the organized anti-immigrant movement in 2013 by hiring Janice Kephart as Special Counsel. At the time Kephart was also the Director of National Security Policy for the Center for Immigration Studies.
Not only is our current attorney general a racist, he is an admirer of hate groups and a man who believed that hiring a hate group attorney as special counsel to the Senate Judiciary subcommittee was a proper exercise of his authority. He is now Trump’s attorney general, doing everything in his power, no doubt, to make the dreams of the nativist hate groups our reality.
His first step in closing our borders to all comers was to institute a “zero tolerance” rule overriding the existing prosecutorial discretion by dictating the detention and prosecution of all immigrants for the misdemeanor of crossing the border without authorization. The next step is to deny due process to all of those who cross our southern border, which he already has Trump demanding via Twitter. Sessions is fulfilling both of the policy demands presented by Brandon Judd, on behalf of the hate groups who now run our Justice Department, on June 25, 2014.
As we accelerate toward tyranny, it is worth remembering that tyrants need a special military or paramilitary force, be they a Palace Guard or Brownshirts.
These are bad things. They are evil and filled with hate. But there is something even worse going on. As we accelerate toward tyranny, it is worth remembering that tyrants need a special military or paramilitary force, be they a Palace Guard or Brownshirts. Trump cannot use our military, which is prohibited from acting on American soil, and where faith in our constitution is still strong and the military service members have been taught about the need to refuse orders that violate it.
But the Border Patrol, and the ICE troopers are different. They do operate on American soil. They have shown no respect for American values and are willing to follow Trump wherever he leads. At least those who remain on the job and continue to obey orders appear to be willing to do so. And the Border Patrol claims jurisdiction within 100 air miles of any external border or coastline of the United States. That one hundred mile boundary encompasses some two-thirds of the population, or 200 million Americans, and almost every major city and blue state in the country. They claim the right to set up shop wherever they want within that constitution-free zone.
And so they look for French joggers or tourists in Maine. It is unlikely that the courts will do a damn thing to stop them from delaying you and asking questions about your citizenship while drug dogs stand by to sniff your car. (They did make more drug busts than immigration busts during the stops in New Hampshire.)
But mostly, they are familiarizing the public with their presence. They are normalizing violations of the Fourth Amendment. By focusing on tearing apart families on the southern border, they make interrogations at a checkpoint far from any border seem downright neighborly in contrast. They are acclimating us to a life in which we will be asked to produce our papers and prove our right to exist in their world.
I don’t think we should let them do that. Let’s hope it is not too late.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post reported that NumbersUSA was listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is not the case. We regret the error.