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Archive for April 11th, 2017

Cell Phones Seized by Border Patrol Triples in One Year; Congress May Intervene

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The number of cell phones turned over to demanding Border Patrol agents has nearly tripled from 2015 to 2016.

That has led Congress to consider legislation the would require a warrant before people would be entitled to turn over their phones on the requests of agents, according to a new NPR report. 

Here’s a partial transcript of the interview:

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.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: It happened to Sidd Bikkannavar in January. He was returning from a trip to Chile and at the Houston airport was told to report to passport control by Customs and Border Protection, CBP.

SIDD BIKKANNAVAR: And the CBP officer started a series of questions and instructions. It was all pretty benign and uneventful. He ultimately told me to hand over my phone and give the password to unlock it.

NAYLOR: Bikkannavar is an American citizen. In fact, he’s a NASA engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

BIKKANNAVAR: You know, as politely as I could, I refused. I told him I wasn’t allowed to give up the password. I have to protect access. It’s a work-issued phone. So I pointed out the NASA barcodes and labels on the phone.

NAYLOR: But all that didn’t matter to the CBP agents who continued to insist and handed Bikkannavar a document warning there’d be consequences if Bikkannavar didn’t go along. And so he did. Now, you might be wondering – doesn’t the Constitution protect Americans from this sort of thing? Well, it turns out the law isn’t entirely clear. CBP maintains it has the authority to look through everyone’s phones at border crossings and airport customs checkpoints. Here’s Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly before a Senate panel last week.

ATF Agents Use Off-the-Books Bank Accounts for Inappropriate Purchases

atf badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

ATF agents dipped into an off-the-books bank account for personal trips and other inappropriate expenses.

The New York Times found that agents used the money to take a trip to Las Vegas and rent a $21,000 suite at a Nascar race. One agent even used the money to donate to the school of one of his or her children. 

The private bank account also was tapped to finance undercover operations, possibly violating laws prohibiting government officials from subsidizing their budgets with private money.

The Times wrote:

The revelations highlight the lax oversight at the A.T.F. that allowed agents and informants to spend millions while avoiding the normal accounting process. The Justice Department’s inspector general, who is investigating the secret account, criticized the A.T.F. recently for mismanagement and said the agency did not know how many informants it had or how much they were paid.

The New York Times revealed the existence of the bank account in February, prompting an investigation by the House oversight committee. The Justice Department, which oversees the A.T.F., has denied any wrongdoing, and the department has refused to say whether the bureau continues to operate such secret accounts, which the government called “management accounts.”

The A.T.F. has also refused to say who authorized the account, which was created by agents based in Bristol, Va., who were investigating tobacco smuggling. One government official said the bureau regarded the account as a hybrid of government funds and private money, a combination that is not authorized under federal law. Ryan Kaye, an A.T.F. supervisor, is quoted in public court documents as saying the agents received “verbal directives” from unidentified officials at headquarters to open the account.

Trump Administration Halts Weekly Reports on Sanctuary Cities – for Now

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Trump administration has temporarily ceased publishing a controversial weekly report about municipalities that won’t work with federal immigration officials.

The New York Times reports that the publication contained misleading and sensational information that incensed law enforcement officials in so-called sanctuary cities.

Critics have argued that the report is propaganda designed to pressure cities to cooperate with federal officials.

The agency said it’s working to “analyze and refine its reporting methodologies,” according to an ICE spokesman.

NY Daily News: ICE’s Incoherent Immigration Policies Target Wrong People

ice-agentsBy Editorial Board
New York Daily News

The first and last mission of the Department of Homeland Security is to keep Americans safe, enforcing the nation’s immigration laws as an essential piece of that puzzle.

All Americans should take alarm at the agency’s sure and steady perversion under President Trump into a force deporting immigrants indiscriminately and, what’s worse, ineffectively when it comes to the hardened criminals who should have no place in this country.

“We have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out” promised Trump on the campaign trail.

Yeah, right. One by one by one, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is plucking for ejection upstanding immigrants, pillars of their communities, because at some point a judge or customs agent deemed them deportable — as dictated by Trump’s January executive order to prioritize “removable aliens” for deportation.

Last week it was beloved Indiana restaurateur Roberto Beristain, shipped back to Mexico — a heartbreak to his American wife, a Trump voter who had believed the President meant he would only toss dangers to society.

The week before, it was Drs. Pankaj Satija and Monika Ummat, who had been treating children in Houston for 15 years and got a temporary reprieve, but no guarantees, from orders to leave the U.S.

Thank goodness, Juan Vivares of Colombia is for now back in the Bronx with his U.S. citizen wife and baby, after an asylum glitch left him an open target for ICE.

By the same perversity, ICE is proving itself far more committed to demonizing so-called sanctuary cities like New York as friendly hosts to savage criminals than it is to actually finding a way to purge those criminals effectively.

To read more click here. 

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