Extreme vetting, extreme prosecution and other immigration news – April 12, 2017


Photo by takao goto, published under Creative Commons license.

Extreme vetting remains a key Trump administration proposal, despite the lack of definition for the term. The New York Times called it “extreme foolishness” – three articles below will explain why. The general “get tough” attitude of the administration was reiterated in a memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions telling prosecutors to go after more immigrants. Extreme vetting, meet extreme prosecution.

Extreme Vetting

Here’s what we know about ‘extreme vetting’ (NPR Marketplace blog, 4/5/17) Not much. Among the possibilities being considered – ask applicants for a visa (tourist, refugee, business traveler, anyone) to do this:

  • Hand over their phones so that their contact list and photos could be examined by embassy or consulate staff
  • Provide their social media handles and passwords so that both private and public posts can be viewed. Previously, the Department of Homeland Security has requested handles only to review public posts
  • Provide 15 years’ worth of travel history, employment history and addresses

U.S. Border Patrol Agents Step Up Cellphone Searches (NPR, 4/10/17)

“As the Trump administration looks to carry out extreme vetting of those who want to enter the U.S., one screening practice has already been amped up. In 2016, the number of people asked to hand over their cell phones and passwords by Customs and Border Protection agents increased almost threefold over the year before. NPR’s Brian Naylor reports this is happening to both foreign visitors and American citizens….

“[Democratic Senator Ron Wyden has] sponsored legislation that would require the government to get a probable cause warrant before it can look through such devices. Republican Rand Paul and others from both parties and both chambers are co-sponsoring the bill.”

The Extreme Foolishness in Extreme Vetting Proposals (New York Times, 4/10/17)

“Imagine that the next time you arrive at a foreign airport a customs agent asks you to unlock your phone, hand it over and, for good measure, cough up the login and password information for any social media accounts you have. You could then wait for hours while government officials sift through your address book, your emails, your chats and, yes, even your photos. If all goes well, you get your phone back, get a new stamp on your passport and start your journey with the sinking feeling that follows an arbitrary breach of privacy….

“No one has made a convincing case that such forms of enhanced screening would make the United States any safer. In fact, the opposite is true.”

Extreme prosecution

During border visit, Sessions outlines immigration plan (AP via MPR, 4/11/17)

“He directed the nation’s federal prosecutors in a Tuesday memo to prioritize immigration-related cases, with an eye toward targeting people who cross the border illegally and those who come back after being deported.

“Sessions urged federal prosecutors to intensify their focus on immigration crimes such as illegal crossing or smuggling others into the U.S., even though such prosecutions are already happening on a large scale. Half of federal arrests in 2014 were for immigration-related offenses, according to a Pew Research analysis released this week, based on the most recent federal statistics.”

Sessions tells prosecutors to bring more cases against those entering U.S. illegally (Washington Post, 4/11/17)

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed federal prosecutors across the country Tuesday to make immigration cases a higher priority and look for opportunities to bring serious felony charges against those who cross the border illegally — the latest in a string of controversial maneuvers to crack down on illegal entry into the United States and expand the Justice Department’s role in immigration enforcement.

“In a three-page memo, Sessions directed each U.S. attorney to appoint a border security coordinator to oversee immigration prosecutions and to make immigration offenses — such as crossing the border illegally or harboring those who do so — “higher priorities.”

Immigration offenses make up a growing share of federal arrests (Pew Research, 4/10/17)

“Federal law enforcement agencies are making more arrests for immigration-related offenses and fewer arrests for other types of offenses – including drug, property and gun crimes – than they were a decade ago, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“Half (50%) of the 165,265 total arrests made by the federal government in fiscal 2014 – the most recent year for which statistics are available – were for immigration-related offenses, such as crossing the border illegally or smuggling others into the United States. A decade earlier, immigration-related offenses accounted for 28% of all federal arrests.”

New enforcement push sends Twin Cities immigrants into shadows (Star Tribune, 4/11/17)

“In this climate, immigrant advocates are trying to strike a delicate balance. They are hosting “Know Your Rights” seminars and urging immigrants to prepare in case they get arrested or deported. At the same time, they are trying to rein in hearsay and maintain trust in local law enforcement.

“For now, the way immigration authorities do business in Minnesota hasn’t changed significantly: That’s the message from some immigration attorneys, the Mexican consulate in St. Paul and people such as Juan Linares, an advocate and manager of Mercado Central, a Lake Street marketplace where business slowed amid worries about an immigration raid.”

Real ID coming back

 Real ID bills top the agenda when Minnesota Legislature returns (MPR, 4/11/17) The biggest controversy over Real ID this year is whether to codify the bar against drivers’ licenses for unauthorized immigrants. The House version of Real ID would make this ban a statute, rather leaving it as a DMV rule. The Senate passed a “clean” version of the bill with nothing about drivers’ licenses. Now the two bills have to be reconciled.

In a small Iowa town, a Pulitzer-winning editor defends immigrants and tries to bring a community together (Los Angeles Times, 4/10/17)

“Storm Lake opened its arms wide and proclaimed itself a refuge, first for the so-called boat people who arrived from Southeast Asia via religious charities in the 1970s, and later to the burgeoning Latino population.

“Today, some street signs are in English and Spanish; the police force has a push on to find more bilingual officers.”

How a new Spanish-language podcast is helping Minnesota’s Latino community connect to political news (MinnPost, 4/11/17)

Roldan and Elias talked about President Trump’s immigration executive order and how it’s affected the community; the latest news about the sexual harassment accusations of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly; and the next presidential elections in Mexico….

“We want to make sure that we know what this administration is going to do and share that information with our communities,” Roldan said. “We’re not reporters; we’re just two brown guys trying to figure out how we can make a little bit of positive contribution in our community.”

Fact Checker: President Trump’s claim that illegal immigration is down 64 percent because of his administration (Washington Post, 4/10/17) Down – yes. “Because of” – not so clear.

France migrants: Huge fire guts Grande-Synthe Dunkirk camp (BBC, 4/11/17)



About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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