Rapid hiring of ICE agents – What could possibly go wrong? and other immigration news – April 14, 2017

The Washington Post has gotten access to an internal Department of Homeland Security assessment showing plans to make it easier to hire Border Patrol and ICE agents – by eliminating lie detector tests, physical fitness requirements, and Spanish language tests. James Tomscheck, former head of internal affairs for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, warned that loosening standards could produce even worse results than the doubling of the size of CBP from 2006-12. Back then, Tomscheck told NPR:

“The results were shocking. More than half of the applicants failed to clear the exam, with the overwhelming majority giving us detailed admissions as to why it was they failed the exam. It was what these applicants had done in their past that most concerned us. They included serious felony crimes, active involvement in smuggling activities and several confirmed infiltrators who actually were employed by drug trafficking organizations who had been directed to seek out positions within Customs and Border Protection to advance ongoing criminal conspiracies, essentially be spies in our midst.”

The DHS assessment published by the Washington Post also touts a huge increase in immigration detention facilities – on the heels of an NBC report of more than a thousand sex abuse complaints involving ICE from 2014-16.

Among the other aspects of aggressive enforcement: accelerating border searches of cell phones and social media accounts (including U.S. citizens), and purchases of “some of the most powerful phone and laptop hacking technology available.” 

Trump administration moving quickly to build up nationwide deportation force (Washington Post, 4/12/17) The plans include ending lie detector and physical fitness tests. What could possibly go wrong?

An internal Department of Homeland Security assessment obtained by The Washington Post shows the agency has already found 33,000 more detention beds to house undocumented immigrants, opened discussions with dozens of local police forces that could be empowered with enforcement authority and identified where construction of Trump’s border wall could begin.

The agency also is considering ways to speed up the hiring of hundreds of new Customs and Border Patrol officers, including ending polygraph and physical fitness tests in some cases, according to the documents.

To Detain More Immigrants, Trump Administration to Speed Border Hiring (New York Times, 4/12/17)

“James Tomsheck, a former assistant commissioner for internal affairs at Customs and Border Protection, said any attempt to speed hiring by lowering standards leaves the agency vulnerable to corrupt or compromised agents. “I can’t see how this makes the border any more secure,” he said, calling the polygraph change “preposterous.”

“Even if more applicants qualify, the agency lacks the capacity or the money to process them quickly. By March, it took an average of about 300 days to hire a border agent, according to the memo, though that was an improvement over the 469-day average in January 2016.”

Report: Homeland Security Fields 1,000 Sex Abuse Complaints (NBC-San Diego, 4/11/17)

“The Homeland Security inspector general’s office disclosed that it received 1,016 complaints from detainees reporting sexual abuse or assault from May 2014 to July 2016. More than 90 percent involved Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency within Homeland Security that has more than 30,000 beds at detention facilities nationwide….

“The inspector general received more than 33,000 allegations of a broader range of abuses from January 2010 to July 2016, including 702 for coerced sexual contact, 714 for physical or sexual abuse and 589 for sexual harassment, according to the group.”

With Trump’s Border Plans, Security And Surveillance Firms Eye Bigger Profits (NPR, 4/12/17)

“At the expo, merchants are showing off rubber guns, real guns and a peculiar, sci-fi-looking spotlight gun.

“It’s for border control, for searching for people, and … also for blinding eyes,” says Hiro Yazawa, representing the Tokyo-based manufacturer, Japan Cel.’

US Immigration Splurged $2.2 Million On Phone Hacking Tech Just After Trump’s Travel Ban (Forbes, 4/13/17)

“On March 9, just three days after President Trump signed off his second attempt at a travel ban from Muslim-majority countries, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ordered $2 million worth of what’s believed to be some of the most powerful phone and laptop hacking technology available….

“ICE is one of the two main agencies with the authority to search devices entering the country alongside Customs and Border Protection. Typically, CBP (also a Cellebrite customer) is the first port of call for intercepting devices as people land in America, but it often passes them on to ICE agents for more in-depth forensics. It appears ICE may have greater search powers too, in that CBP requires supervisory approval when copying a phone’s contents, whereas ICE does not, according to official guidance obtained by MuckRock.”

Editorial: Restore the 4th Amendment at the U.S. Border (Los Angeles Times, 4/12/17)

“Searches conducted without even a reasonable suspicion of unlawful activity aren’t just inefficient; they’re also an affront to Americans’ constitutional right to privacy. Adi and her fellow citizens are having the sensitive personal information on their digital devices hoovered up by federal agents — apparently because of where they traveled or their ethnicity, other times purportedly because of randomly applied scrutiny. Some even are having their devices searched before they leave.”

Opinion: Border agents can look at everything on your cell phone. Congress shoujld change that. (Washington Post, 4/12/17)

And in other news:

Trump Plan Would Curtail Protections for Detained Immigrants (New York Times, 4/13/17)

“Kevin Landy, who in the Obama administration directed ICE’s Office of Detention Policy and Planning, which is closing, said the changes would depart from years of efforts to improve the health and safety of people held on immigration violations, especially those in jails built for serious criminals.

“A decision to simultaneously abandon detention standards could have disastrous consequences for the health and safety of these individuals,” he said.

Police departments say they don’t enforce immigration laws. But their manuals say something different (Los Angeles Times, 4/12/17) Police in at least 11 California jurisdictions use handbooks from Lexipol, which include instructions for questioning about immigration status. (Here’s the text of the policy in the handbook.)

“Culver City police say officers don’t enforce federal immigration law. The City Council declared the town a so-called sanctuary city last month, promising to protect the public safety of all city residents, regardless of immigration status.

“But the Police Department’s manual seems to suggest something different, offering officers guidance on how to stop people suspected of illegally entering the U.S., a misdemeanor under federal law.

“Culver City’s policy says “a lack of English proficiency may be considered” as a possible criterion for police to suspect that someone entered the country illegally, though it goes on to say that “it should not be the sole factor in establishing reasonable suspicion.”

U.S. Expected to Return 4,000 Somali Migrants to Their Homeland (VOA, 4/8/17)

‘Since Somalia’s embassy in Washington reopened in November 2015, the ambassador said, about 170 Somali immigrants who either ran afoul of U.S. law or had their asylum applications rejected have been deported to Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

“Most of those previously deported had applied for but been denied political asylum in the U.S., he added. Another group of Somali applicants whose requests for asylum have been denied are now in detention centers or prisons, awaiting deportation….

“Since Somalia has lacked a strong central government for more than a quarter-century, many Western nations have refrained from forcibly returning Somali immigrants to their home country because of safety concerns. U.S. immigration policies have been tightened considerably under the administration of President Donald Trump, and such a clemency policy for Somali nationals is no longer being observed.”

Sanctuary cities crackdown threatens government shutdown (Politico, 4/12/17) If the president’s budget director succeeds tin getting Congressional Republicans to include sanctuary city sanctions in the budget bill – and that could be a “poison pill” that would lead to a government shutdown at the end of April.

Latino political group turning attention from Washington to state capitals (Washington Post, 4/13/17)

Migrant crisis: Nearly 100 missing after Libya boat sinks (BBC, 4/13/17)


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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