If you value your constitutionally guaranteed rights, you need to pay attention to what is happening to them right now, because they are being trampled by unaccountable and out-of-control Customs and Border Protection agents who, emboldened by a President that has made it clear that he has little respect for the Constitution, can act illegally with apparent impunity.
Three examples in the last week alone:
Muhammad Ali Jr., son of the legendary boxer, was returning from an speaking engagement in Jamaica when he was pulled out for questioning at a Florida airport, and question for two hours, repeatedly asked, “Where did you get your name?” and “Are you a Muslim.” It was a frightening experience for him and his family. Muhammad Ali Jr., i an American citizen. Customs and Border Protection later denied that they had interrogated him because of his ethnicity or his religion, but the Ali family tells a very different story. To them it felt very much like racial and religious profiling. To me it looks very much like a violation of Mr. Ali’s First Amendment rights.
Senior citizens Carl and Sandra Hannigan were returning to their home in Calgary after a ten day vacation in Mexico. Customs and Border Protection agents pulled them aside at their stop-over in Salt Lake City, where they were finger-printed and photographed. Although they were delayed for only ten minutes or so, they both found the experience frightening. Mr. Hannigan said that he was afraid to object because “I know how powerful these guys are.” They reported the incident to their MP, who told them that there is nothing the Canadian government can do. The Canadian government has begun warning travelers to avoid going through United States airports. “During this time of immigration upheaval it will be important for Canadians to, wherever possible, not connect through the U.S. when traveling to Mexico.” A Customs and Border Protection spokesman said that this is a fairly standard procedure, and that it was “nothing new or unusual.” However, some frequent travelers to the United States, as well as travel agents, say that they have never experienced this kind of treatment before.
Eduardo Caraballo is a US citizen born in Puerto Rico (a US territory). In Chicago, he was arrested on suspicion of car theft. He paid bail a was then picked up by ICE, who held him for a week, and told him he was going to be deported. His mother brought his birth certificate, but ICE agents remained unconvinced. It’s not clear where they planned to deport him to. The US? After a week, he was released.
The Customs and Border Protection agency is openly violating the civil rights of American citizens. These sorts of things have sometimes happened in the past, but suddenly we are seeing a sharp increase in US citizens being denied their constitutionally guaranteed rights. Apparently, the CBD, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, thinks they are above the law. Equally apparently, under Trump, they are.
Single incidents by themselves don’t seem alarming. But they should be. If even one person’s civil rights can be violated with impunity, then yours can be violated too.
Our President is actively dismantling the democratic institutions that define and defend our democracy. He needs to be stopped. Join the resistance. Look up the phone numbers of you two Senators and your one Congressman, and call them. Tell them you want them to stop this demagogue while there is still time.