WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to the Obama-era program that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation, calling it an “amnesty-first approach” and urging Congress to pass a replacement before he begins phasing out its protections in six months.
As early as March, officials said, some of the 800,000 young adults brought to the United States illegally as children who qualify for the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, will become eligible for deportation. The five-year-old policy allows them to remain without fear of immediate removal from the country and gives them the right to work legally.
Mr. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced the change at the Justice Department, both used the aggrieved language of anti-immigrant activists, arguing that those in the country illegally are lawbreakers who hurt native-born Americans by usurping their jobs and pushing down wages.
Mr. Trump said in a statement that he was driven by a concern for “the millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system.” Mr. Sessions said the program had “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”
Protests broke out in front of the White House and the Justice Department and in cities across the country soon after Mr. Sessions’s announcement. Democrats and some Republicans, business executives, college presidents and immigration activists condemned the move as a coldhearted and shortsighted effort that was unfair to the young immigrants and could harm the economy.
“This is a sad day for our country,” Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, wrote on his personal page. “It is particularly cruel to offer young people the American dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then punish them for it.”
Former President Barack Obama, who had warned that any threat to the program would prompt him to speak out, called his successor’s decision “wrong,” “self-defeating” and “cruel.”
“Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us,” Mr. Obama wrote on Facebook.
Both he and Mr. Trump said the onus was now on lawmakers to protect the young immigrants as part of a broader overhaul of the immigration system that would also toughen enforcement.
But despite broad and longstanding bipartisan support for measures to legalize unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children, the odds of a sweeping immigration deal in a deeply divided Congress appeared long. Legislation to protect the “dreamers” has also repeatedly died in Congress.
Just hours after the angry reaction to Mr. Trump’s decision, the president appeared to have second thoughts. In a late-evening tweet, Mr. Trump specifically called on Congress to “legalize DACA,” something his administration’s officials had declined to do earlier in the day.
Mr. Trump also warned lawmakers that if they do not legislate a program similar to the one Mr. Obama created through executive authority, he will “revisit this issue!” — a statement sure to inject more uncertainty into the ultimate fate of the young, undocumented immigrants who have been benefiting from the program since 2012.
Conservatives praised Mr. Trump’s move, though some expressed frustration that he had taken so long to rescind the program and that the gradual phaseout could mean that some immigrants retained protection from deportation until October 2019.
The White House portrayed the decision as a matter of legal necessity, given that nine Republican state attorneys general had threatened to sue to halt the program immediately if Mr. Trump did not act.
Months of internal White House debate preceded the move, as did the president’s public display of his own conflicted feelings. He once referred to DACA recipients as “incredible kids.”
The president’s wavering was reflected in a day of conflicting messages from him and his team. Hours after his statement was released, Mr. Trump told reporters that he had “great love” for the beneficiaries of the program he had just ended.
“I have a love for these people, and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly,” he said. But he notably did not endorse bipartisan legislation to codify the program’s protections, leaving it unclear whether he would back such a solution.
Mr. Trump’s aides were negotiating late into Monday evening with one another about precisely how the plan to wind down the program would be executed. Until Tuesday morning, some aides believed the president had settled on a plan that would be more generous, giving more of the program’s recipients the option to renew their protections.
But even taking into account Mr. Trump’s contradictory language, the rollout of his decision was smoother than his early moves to crack down on immigration, particularly the botched execution in January of his ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
In addition to the public statement from Mr. Sessions and a White House question-and-answer session, the president was ready on Tuesday with the lengthy written statement, and officials at the Justice and Homeland Security Departments provided detailed briefings and distributed information to reporters in advance.
Mr. Trump sought to portray his move as a compassionate effort to head off the expected legal challenge that White House officials said would have forced an immediate and highly disruptive end to the program. But he also denounced the policy, saying it helped spark a “massive surge” of immigrants from Central America, some of whom went on to become members of violent gangs like MS-13. Some immigration critics contend that programs like DACA, started under Mr. Obama, encouraged Central Americans to enter the United States, hoping to stay permanently. Tens of thousands of migrants surged across America’s southern border in the summer of 2014, many of them children fleeing dangerous gangs.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, indicated that Mr. Trump would support legislation to “fix” the DACA program, as long as Congress passed it as part of a broader immigration overhaul to strengthen the border, protect American jobs and enhance enforcement.
“The president wants to see responsible immigration reform, and he wants that to be part of it,” Ms. Sanders said, referring to a permanent solution for the young immigrants. “Something needs to be done. It’s Congress’s job to do that. And we want to be part of that process.”
Later on Tuesday, Marc Short, Mr. Trump’s top legislative official, told reporters on Capitol Hill that the White House would release principles for such a plan in the coming days, input that at least one key member of Congress indicated would be crucial.
“It is important that the White House clearly outline what kind of legislation the president is willing to sign,” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said in a statement. “We have no time to waste on ideas that do not have the votes to pass or that the president won’t sign.”
The announcement was an effort by Mr. Trump to honor the law-and-order message of his campaign, which included a repeated pledge to end Mr. Obama’s immigration policy, while seeking to avoid the emotionally charged and politically perilous consequences of targeting a sympathetic group of immigrants.
Mr. Trump’s decision came less than two weeks after he pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who drew intense criticism for his aggressive pursuit of unauthorized immigrants, which earned him a criminal contempt conviction.
The blame-averse president told a confidante over the past few days that he realized that he had gotten himself into a politically untenable position. As late as one hour before the decision was to be announced, administration officials privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump might not fully grasp the details of the steps he was about to take, and when he discovered their full impact, would change his mind, according to a person familiar with their thinking who was not authorized to comment on it and spoke on condition of anonymity.
But ultimately, the president followed through on his campaign pledge at the urging of Mr. Sessions and other hard-line members inside his White House, including Stephen Miller, his top domestic policy adviser.
The announcement started the clock on revoking legal status from those protected under the program.
Officials said DACA recipients whose legal status expires on or before March 5 would be able to renew their two-year period of legal status as long as they apply by Oct. 5. But the announcement means that if Congress fails to act, immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children could face deportation as early as March 6 to countries where many left at such young ages that they have no memory of them.
Immigration officials said they did not intend to actively target the young immigrants as priorities for deportation, though without the program’s protection, they would be considered subject to removal from the United States and would no longer be able to work legally.
Officials said some of the young immigrants could be prevented from returning to the United States if they traveled abroad.
Immigration advocates took little comfort from the administration’s assurances, describing the president’s decision as deeply disturbing and vowing to shift their demands for protections to Capitol Hill.
Marielena Hincapié, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, called Mr. Trump’s decision “nothing short of hypocrisy, cruelty and cowardice.” Maria Praeli, a recipient of protection under the program, criticized Mr. Sessions and Mr. Trump for talking “about us as if we don’t matter and as if this isn’t our home.”
The Mexican foreign ministry issued a statement saying the “Mexican government deeply regrets” Mr. Trump’s decision.
As recently as July, Mr. Trump expressed skepticism about the prospect of a broad legislative deal.
“What I’d like to do is a comprehensive immigration plan,” he told reporters. “But our country and political forces are not ready yet.”
As for DACA, he said: “There are two sides of a story. It’s always tough.”
CHICAGO/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Chicago will sue the Trump administration on Monday over threats to withhold public safety grant money from so-called sanctuary cities, escalating a pushback against a federal immigration crackdown, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Sunday.
The federal lawsuit comes less than two weeks after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the U.S. Justice Department would bar cities from a certain grant program unless they allow immigration authorities unlimited access to local jails and provide 48 hours’ notice before releasing anyone wanted for immigration violations.
“Chicago will not let our police officers become political pawns in a debate,” Emanuel, a Democrat, said at a news conference. “Chicago will not let our residents have their fundamental rights isolated and violated. And Chicago will never relinquish our status as a welcoming city.”
Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants provide money to hundreds of cities, and the Trump administration has requested $380 million in funding next year. Chicago, a regular target of Republican President Donald Trump because of its murder rate, expected to receive $3.2 million this year for purchasing equipment.
Emanuel said the lawsuit would prevent the Trump administration from setting a precedent that could be used to target other funding.
Under Trump and Sessions, the federal government has sought to crack down on sanctuary cities, which generally offer illegal immigrants safe harbor by declining to use municipal resources to enforce federal immigration laws. Dozens of local governments and cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, have joined the growing sanctuary movement.
The Justice Department said more Chicagoans were murdered last year than residents of Los Angeles and New York combined, and cited comments by Sessions last week saying sanctuary cities “make all of us less safe.”
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a Sunday statement: “It’s especially tragic that the mayor is less concerned with that staggering figure than he is spending time and taxpayer money protecting criminal aliens and putting Chicago’s law enforcement at greater risk.”
Police and city officials in sanctuary cities have said deporting illegal immigrants who are not accused of serious crimes harms public safety by discouraging immigrants from coming forward to report crimes.
Chicago’s lawsuit is the first to challenge the department over the Byrne program, though city officials said they are in contact with other cities. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is also considering a similar lawsuit, the Sacramento Bee has reported.
The Trump administration has already faced legal battles over its sanctuary city policies. Last month, a U.S. judge refused to revisit a court order that blocked Trump’s January executive order denying broader federal funds to such jurisdictions, in a case filed by San Francisco and the California county of Santa Clara.
Steve Bannon es católico, mientras que Donald Trump nació en una familia presbiteriana. La religiosidad personal de ambos es más que dudosa, como le sucedía a Maurras, hasta el punto de que fue el agnosticismo del escritor francés el que le condujo a la condena eclesial. Bannon se ha divorciado dos veces a pesar de la indisolubilidad del matrimonio católico, y de Trump se desconoce si practica o si tiene siquiera alguna idea religiosa. Pero en ambos cuenta la religión como visión política del mundo, y ahí es donde el Vaticano tiene algo que decir y lo ha dicho, uniendo además en una misma crítica al catolicismo integrista y al fundamentalismo evangelista que tan buen servicio les ha rendido al Partido Republicano para ganar en las elecciones presidenciales.
Aunque el mensaje es bien claro, en cuanto a quien lo emite y a lo que dice, la vía escogida por el Vaticano es sutil e indirecta. Ha sido la revista de los jesuitas Civiltà Cattolica la que lo ha transmitido, a través de un artículo, titulado ‘Fundamentalismo evangélico e integrismo católico en Estados Unidos, un ecumenismo sorprendente’, firmado por su director, el italiano Antonio Spadaro, y por el protestante argentino Marcelo Figueroa. Un católico y un protestante denuncian precisamente la colusión de católicos y protestantes extremistas estadounidenses en un mismo pensamiento al que califican de “ecumenismo del odio”. Según el diario italiano La Repubblica, el papa Francisco en persona, el secretario de Estado Pietro Parolin y el secretario para las Relaciones con Estados Unidos, Paul Richard Gallagher, han corregido y visado el artículo.
El papa Francisco rechaza la narrativa del miedo y de la inseguridad, sobre la que Trump y su derecha alternativa construyen muros ideológicos
La primera característica de esta desviación teológica es el maniqueísmo, un “lenguaje que divide la realidad entre el Bien absoluto y el Mal absoluto”, cuestión en la que los autores citan al propio presidente Trump y que sitúa a los inmigrantes y a los musulmanes entre las amenazas al sistema de vida de Estados Unidos.Una segunda característica que denuncian Spadaro y Figueroa es el carácter de Teología de la Prosperidad que comparten los dos extremismos católico y evangelista. Su evangelio para ricos, difundido por organizaciones y pastores multimillonarios, predica una idea autojustificativa de que “Dios desea que sus seguidores tengan salud física, sean prósperos y personalmente felices”. La tercera característica es una defensa muy peculiar de la libertad religiosa, en la que extremistas católicos y protestantes se unen en cuestiones como la oposición al aborto y al matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo o la educación religiosa en la escuela, y propugnan un sometimiento de las instituciones del Estado a las ideas religiosas e incluso a la Biblia muy similar al que inspira al fundamentalismo islámico.
Esta visión del mundo proporciona una justificación teológica a la guerra y alienta la esperanza religiosa con la expectativa de un enfrentamiento apocalíptico y definitivo entre el Bien y el Mal. Las afinidades con la idea islamista radical de la yihad son bien claras. El artículo denuncia la web de extrema derecha Church Militant, que atribuye la victoria de Trump a las oraciones de los estadounidenses, propugna la guerra de religiones y profesa el llamado dominionismo, que es una lectura literalista del Genésis en la que el hombre es el centro de un universo a su entero servicio. Los dominionistas consideran anticristianos a los ecologistas y observan los desastres naturales y el cambio climático como irremediables signos escatológicos de un final de los tiempos apocalíptico, que no hay que obstaculizar, sino todo lo contrario.
No es posible comprender esta fuerte arremetida del Vaticano contra la extrema derecha estadounidense sin recordar la intervención de Steve Bannon en una conferencia celebrada en el Vaticano en 2014, en la que denunció la secularización excesiva de Occidente y anunció “la proximidad de un conflicto brutal y sangriento, (…) una guerra global contra el fascismo islámico”, en la que “esta nueva barbarie que ahora empieza erradicará todo lo que nos ha sido legado en los últimos dos mil o dos mil quinientos años”. También hay que situarlo en el marco de tensiones entre la Casa Blanca y el Vaticano a propósito de Oriente Próximo, especialmente tras el primer viaje de Trump en el que pretendió conectar con las tres religiones, islam, judaísmo y catolicismo, pero terminó convirtiéndose en un reforzamiento de la alianza con Arabia Saudí y un estímulo al enfrentamiento con Teherán, con consecuencias inmediatas en el bloqueo a Qatar.
El pontífice no solo discrepa de sus propuestas sobre ecología, inmigración o impuestos, sino que rechaza su estrategia en favor de Riad
Curiosamente, Spadaro y Figueroa defienden las raíces cristianas de Europa, pero con una argumentación inversa a la que se escuchaba en tiempos de Ratzinger, de la que ha desaparecido el supremacismo cristiano y blanco. “El triunfalismo, la arrogancia y el etnicismo vengativo son exactamente lo contrario del cristianismo”, aseguran. El artículo termina recordando que el papa Francisco combate la narrativa del miedo y la manipulación de la inseguridad y de la ansiedad de la gente, evita la reducción del Islam al terrorismo islamista y rechaza la idea de una guerra santa contra el islam o la construcción de muros físicos e ideológicos. Con la denuncia del ecumenismo del odio, el Vaticano sitúa a Steve Bannon y Donald Trump en un infierno ideológico análogo al que abrió las puertas a Maurras en 1927, ahora hace justo 90 años, en el que se encuentran condenados los políticos que utilizan la religión para dividir en vez de unir a los seres humanos.
Wednesday’s White House news briefing began not with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders but with senior adviser Stephen Miller, whose nationalist immigration positions have been highly influential in the administration. Miller was at the lectern to discuss the Raise Act, legislation crafted by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) and introduced by President Trump earlier in the day.
During his brief stint addressing the White House press corps, Miller got into two serious arguments with reporters, an impressive if not surprising accomplishment. One, with CNN’s Jim Acosta, included accusations of Acosta having a “cosmopolitan bias” in his thinking about immigration. (Worth noting: Acosta is the son of immigrants.) But the other, a dust-up with the New York Times’ Glenn Thrush, was more significant.
Before getting into that, though, it’s worth isolating part of Miller’s introduction to the topic, the sentence that formed the crux of his rhetoric in defense of a bill that will slice legal immigration in half if it is enacted into law.
“You’ve seen over time as a result of this historic flow of unskilled immigration,” Miller said, “a shift in wealth from the working class to wealthier corporations and businesses, and it’s been very unfair for American workers, but especially for immigrant workers, African American workers and Hispanic workers, and blue-collar workers in general across the country.”
That line does two things that are essential to Miller’s sales pitch. First, it blames income inequality — assuming that money headed to “wealthier corporations” means to those corporations’ owners — on increased immigration. Second, it highlights the effects on black, Hispanic and immigrant workers in particular.
There has been research that links increased income inequality to immigration. A 2015 paper by a trio of researchers found just such a link. But assuming that link, it’s clearly not the only — or even the primary — driver of income inequality. A graph created by those researchers makes clear that the inequality (as measured with the Gini coefficient) would be nearly as high without the effects of immigration.
The effect of immigrants, the researchers say, is “modest.” But Miller presents the “shift in wealth” as being a “result” of the flow of unskilled immigrants. In other analyses of that increased gap, immigration isn’t mentioned.
Miller’s suggestion that those most affected by this shift are other communities of color, meanwhile, is a classic tactic aimed at appealing to working-class Americans and nonwhite voters by blaming immigrants for their problems. (Hillary Clinton did something similarduring a debate in the 2008 primaries.)
When Miller began to take questions, Thrush asked him very specifically for data to back up his points.
THRUSH: First of all, let’s have some statistics. There have been a lot of studies out there that don’t show a correlation between low-skilled immigration and the loss of jobs for native workers. Cite for me, if you could, one or two studies with specific numbers that prove the correlation between those two things, because your entire policy is based on that. …
MILLER: I think the most recent study I would point to is the study from George Borjas that he just did about the Mariel Boatlift. And he went back and reexamined and opened up the old data and talked about how it actually did reduce wages for workers who were living there at the time.
And Borjas has, of course, done enormous amounts of research on this, as has the — Peter Kirsanow on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, as has Steve Camarota at the Center for Immigration Studies, and so on and so on.
We’ll jump in here first to note that Miller offered no statistics but did point to one study.
That study from Borjas looked at the migration of more than 100,000 Cubans into Florida in 1980. Borjas found that wages among the least-educated workers in Miami dropped 10 to 30 percent as a result of the influx. Borjas’s study was a direct rebuttal to a 1990 study by David Card, which found “virtually no effect” on wages or unemployment rates, even among the Cuban immigrant community that was already in the area.
Borjas’s study was itself soon rebutted, as the National Review noted, with researchers pointing out that he didn’t account for other demographic shifts in the area that may have had a significant effect on wages.
Miller also notes two other individuals, one of whom works for the staunchly anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies — and then implies a surfeit of other data with a casual “and so on, and so on.”
THRUSH: What about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine? …
MILLER: One recent study said that as much as $300 billion a year may be lost as a result of our current immigration system, in terms of folks drawing more public benefits than they’re paying in.
Thrush raises a recent study showing that immigrants don’t take the jobs of native-born Americans, with the exception of teenagers who didn’t finish high school, who saw a drop in hours of work.
Miller responds by noting that the study also found that new immigrants cost nearly $300 billion a year more in government spending than they pay in taxes — though that’s the far end of a spectrum of estimates that starts at $43 billion. By the second generation, immigrant families add a net of $30 billion a year.
Then things got tense.
MILLER: But let’s also use common sense here, folks. At the end of the day, why do special interests want to bring in more low-skill workers? And why, historically …
THRUSH: I’m not asking for common sense. I’m asking for specific statistical data. How many …
MILLER: Well, I think it’s very clear, Glenn, that you’re not asking for common sense. But if I could just answer — if I could just answer your question …
THRUSH: Common sense is fungible, statistics are not.
MILLER: … I named — I named — I named the studies, Glenn.
THRUSH: Let me just finish the question …
MILLER: Glenn. Glenn.
THRUSH: Tell me the …
MILLER: I named the studies. I named the studies.
Again: He named one study. At this point, it got personal.
THRUSH: I asked you for a statistic. Can you tell me how many — how many …
MILLER: Glenn. The — maybe we’ll make a carve-out in the bill that says the New York Times can hire all the low-skilled, less-paid workers they want from other countries and see how you feel then about low-wage substitution. …
You know, maybe it’s time we had compassion, Glenn, for American workers. President Trump has met with American workers who have been replaced by foreign workers.
THRUSH: Stephen, I’m not questioning any of that. I’m asking …
MILLER: And ask them — ask them how this has affected their lives.
The exchange went on in this vein for a while, with Miller ultimately pointing not to statistical data showing a need for the policy but to general statistics about unemployment.
Ultimately, Miller again asked Thrush to set aside his request for data and to consider common sense.
“The reality is that if you just use common sense — and, yes, I will use common sense,” Miller said, “the reason why some companies want to bring in more unskilled labor is because they know that it drives down wages and reduces labor costs. Our question as a government is, to whom is our duty? Our duty is to U.S. citizens and U.S. workers, to promote rising wages for them.”
That raised an obvious question, which other reporters subsequently jumped on: Why do Trump’s private businesses continue to seek visas allowing them to hire immigrants for low-wage jobs?
“I’ll just refer everyone here today back to the president’s comments during the primary, when this was raised in a debate,” Miller replied, “and he said: ‘My job as a businessman is to follow the laws of the United States. And my job as president is to create an immigration system that works for American workers.’ ”
It’s just common sense.
Emma Lazarus Poem at Statue of Liberty. Image: http://patriotretort.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Only-a-poem.jpg
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump plans to join with two Republican senators to unveil legislation that would place new limits on legal immigration. It would seek an immigration system based on merit and jobs skills instead of family connections.
Trump was appearing with Republican Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the bill. The president said at an Ohio rally last month that he was working with the conservative senators to “create a new immigration system for America.”
Trump has made cracking down on illegal immigration a hallmark of his administration and has tried to slash federal grants for cities that refuse to comply with federal efforts to detain and deport those living in the country illegally.
His involvement will put him at the centre of efforts to make changes to the legal immigration system. Previewing the event, White House officials said the bill would aim to create a skills-based immigration system to make the U.S. more competitive, raise wages and create jobs.
The White House said that only 1 in 15 immigrants comes to the U.S. because of their skills, and the current system fails to place a priority on highly skilled immigrants.
Perdue and Cotton introduced the legislation in February that would change the 1965 law to reduce the number of legal immigrants, limiting the number of people able to obtain green cards to join families already in the United States.
The bill would also aim to slash the number of refugees in half and eliminate a program that provides visas to countries with low rates of immigration.
Trump’s appearance was aimed at bringing attention to the bill, which has been largely ignored in the Senate, with no other lawmaker signing on as a co-sponsor. GOP leaders have showed no inclination to vote on immigration this year.
Some immigrant advocates have criticized the proposal, saying that slashing legal immigration would hurt industries like agriculture and harm the economy.
“Our system is broken, but the response should be to modernize it, not take a sledgehammer to it,” said Jeremy Robbins, executive director of New American Economy, a group of business leaders, mayors and others backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that advocates for comprehensive immigration reform.
Many people think that border-related policies impact only people living in border towns like El Paso or San Diego. The reality is that Border Patrol’s interior enforcement operations encroach deep into and across the United States, affecting the majority of Americans.
Roughly two-thirds of the United States’ population, about 200 million people, lives within the 100-mile zone that an outdated federal regulation defines as the border zone—that is, within 100 miles of a U.S. land or coastal border.
Although this zone is not literally “Constitution free”—constitutional protections do still apply—the Border Patrol frequently ignores those protections and runs roughshod over individuals’ civil liberties.
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects Americans from random and arbitrary stops and searches.
According to the government, however, these basic constitutional principles do not apply fully at our borders. For example, at border crossings (also called “ports of entry”), federal authorities do not need a warrant or even suspicion of wrongdoing to justify conducting what courts have called a “routine search,” such as searching luggage or a vehicle.
Even in places far removed from the border, deep into the interior of the country, immigration officials enjoy broad—though not limitless—powers. Specifically, federal regulations give U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) authority to operate within 100 miles of any U.S. “external boundary.”
In this 100-mile zone, Border Patrol agents have certain extra-Constitutional powers. For instance, Border Patrol can operate immigration checkpoints.
Border Patrol, nevertheless, cannot pull anyone over without “reasonable suspicion” of an immigration violation or crime (reasonable suspicion is more than just a “hunch”). Similarly, Border Patrol cannot search vehicles in the 100-mile zone without a warrant or “probable cause” (a reasonable belief, based on the circumstances, that an immigration violation or crime has likely occurred).
In practice, Border Patrol agents routinely ignore or misunderstand the limits of their legal authority in the course of individual stops, resulting in violations of the constitutional rights of innocent people. These problems are compounded by inadequate training for Border Patrol agents, a lack of oversight by CBP and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the consistent failure of CBP to hold agents accountable for abuse. Thus, although the 100-mile border zone is not literally “Constitution free,” the U.S. government frequently acts like it is.
Much of U.S. Population Affected
Many people think that border-related policies only impact people living in border towns like El Paso or San Diego. The reality is that Border Patrol’s interior enforcement operations encroach deep into and across the United States, affecting the majority of Americans.
Roughly two-thirds of the United States’ population lives within the 100-mile zone—that is, within 100 miles of a U.S. land or coastal border. That’s about 200 million people.
Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont lie entirely or almost entirely within this area.
Nine of the ten largest U.S. metropolitan areas, as determined by the 2010 Census, also fall within this zone: New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego and San Jose.
Outdated Legal Authority and Lack of Oversight
The regulations establishing the 100-mile border zone were adopted by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1953—without any public comments or debate. At the time, there were fewer than 1,100 Border Patrol agents nationwide; today, there are over 21,000.
The Border Patrol often ignores this regulation and rejects any geographic limitation on agents’ authority. At least two federal circuit courts condone Border Patrol operations outside the 100-mile zone, federal regulations and Supreme Court precedent notwithstanding.
Federal border agents are stopping, interrogating, and searching Americans on an everyday basis with absolutely no suspicion of wrongdoing, and often in ways that our Constitution does not permit.
For example, Border Patrol, according to news reports, operates approximately 170 interior checkpoints throughout the country (the actual number in operation at any given time is not publicly known). The ACLU believes that these checkpoints amount to dragnet, suspicionless stops that cannot be reconciled with Fourth Amendment protections. The Supreme Court has upheld the use of immigration checkpoints, but only insofar as the stops consist only of a brief and limited inquiry into residence status. Checkpoints cannot be primarily used for drug-search or general law enforcement efforts. In practice, however, Border Patrol agents often do not limit themselves to brief immigration inquiries and regularly conduct criminal investigations and illegal searches at checkpoints. The Border Patrol also frequently pulls over motorists in “roving patrol” stops, often without any suspicion that an immigration violation has occurred.
The ACLU has documented numerous cases of abuse by Border Patrol and filed lawsuits to obtain more information about the agency’s practices. Given Border Patrol’s lack of transparency, and in the absence of any meaningful oversight, there is still much that we don’t know about the full extent and impact of these interior “border enforcement” operations.
Part of a Broader Problem
The spread of border-related powers inland is inseparable from the broader expansion of government intrusion in the lives of ordinary Americans. For example, CBP claims the authority to conduct suspicionless searches of travelers’ electronic devices—such as laptops and cell phones—at ports of entry, including international arrivals at airports. These searches are particularly invasive as a result of the wealth of personal information stored on such devices. At least one circuit court has held that federal officers must have at least “reasonable suspicion” prior to conducting such searches and recent Supreme Court precedent seems to support that view.
These practices also coincide with the spread of numerous border technologies, including watch list and database systems (such as the Automated Targeting System traveler risk assessment program), advanced identification and tracking systems (including electronic passports), and intrusive technological schemes such as the “virtual border fence” and unmanned aerial vehicles (aka “drone aircraft”). With many of these technologies in the hands of private companies, there are powerful financial incentives for the continued “militarization” of the border zone.
The expansion of government power both at and near the border is part of a trend toward expanding police and national security powers without regard to the effect of such expansion on our most fundamental and treasured Constitutional rights. The federal government’s dragnet approach to law enforcement and national security is one that is increasingly turning us all into suspects. If Americans do not continue to challenge the expansion of federal power over the individual, we risk forfeiting the fundamental rights and freedoms that we inherited—including the right to simply go about our business free from government interference, harassment and abuse.
La Carta de los Derechos de la Constitución de los Estados Unidos señala en la Cuarta Enmienda:
“El derecho de los habitantes de que sus personas, domicilios, papeles y efectos se hallen a salvo de pesquisas y aprehensiones arbitrarias, será inviolable, y no se expedirán al efecto mandamientos que no se apoyen en un motivo verosímil, estén corroborados mediante juramento o protesta y describan con particularidad el lugar que deba ser registrado y las personas o cosas que han de ser detenidas o embargadas.”
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Así mismo, la Primera Enmienda:
“El Congreso no podrá hacer ninguna ley con respecto al establecimiento de la religión, ni prohibiendo la libre práctica de la misma; ni limitando la libertad de expresión, ni de prensa; ni el derecho a la asamblea pacífica de las personas, ni de solicitar al gobierno una compensación de agravios.”
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”