Mosque attacks, Jewish cemeteries and now US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). Alt-right racists and xenophobes were emboldened by the ascension of Trump. Now it appears that there are some CBP agents that have been emboldened as well. We all know that there is a psychological phenomenon of lower level government officials being granted investigatory and enforcement authority and having it go to their heads. It seems with Trump’s rhetoric, some CBP agents might as well be wearing Trump wigs and Make America Great Again baseball caps.
This needs to stop. The new chief of DHS, General Kelly, needs to make clear that enforcement of entry rules by CBP is fine–but overdoing it isn’t. In the past couple weeks, here’s just a few samples of what’s happened.
- Muhammad Ali, Jr. (son of boxing legend Muhammad Ali) was questioned for two hours at Fort Lauderdale airport after returning from a trip to Jamaica with his mother. They asked him about the origin of his name and his religion. Perhaps the agent(s) were too young to know who his father was (he told them but that meant little to them). Obviously he’s not from one of the seven countries on Trump’s ridiculous travel ban.
- Henry Rousso, a noted French Holocaust historian was detained for 10 hours at Houston International Airport. For a time, it seemed he would be deported. He too, is not from one of the seven countries and is, in fact, Jewish. He is associated with both Harvard and Columbia Universities. He has been coming to and from America for 30 years without incident. He was coming to America to present a lecture on “Writing in Dark Times,” at Texas A&M University. According to a CNN report,
Rousso says an immigration officer told him he wasn’t “allowed to give a lecture and receive an honorarium” with his tourist visa. The US State Department allows foreign nationals to receive an honorarium under a tourist visa if they are a lecturer or a speaker and under certain guidelines, all of which Rousso met.
- A Nigerian software engineer, Celestine Omin, was detained at JFK airport by CBP agents who reportedly asked questions intended to prove to their satisfaction that he really was a software engineer. Omin works for a startup tech firm, Andela, which recruits talent from Africa to assist American firms. He had a short-term visa allowing him to enter the US. See the story on Fortune/Tech.
- Mem Fox, a celebrated children’s book author from Australia, was detained and questioned for two hours by CBP agents at LAX while enroute to address a conference in Milwaukee. She had been to the US 116 times but says she doesn’t plan on coming back. See the story here. She doesn’t look much like a terrorist in her picture, does she?
- Juan Garcia Mosqueda, an Argentinian and owner of a New York art gallery, missed it’s opening after being detained at JFK for 14 hours and then sent back to Buenos Aires. The CNN story reports his claim that he was denied access to legal counsel, his bathroom visits were closely monitored and more. He is not a US citizen but has been a resident alien for ten years.