You can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, but you can’t come in if your name is Ali.
That’s the way it was looking for Muhammad Ali Jr., son of the late boxing legend, when he returned home to the United States last month from a black-history event in Jamaica. Ali, who is American born and an American citizen, was detained for hours by Customs and Border Protection and interrogated about being a Muslim.
But if border officials have gained newfound zealotry under President Trump, they appear to have lost all sense of irony. Also last month, they detained Australian Mem Fox, who writes children’s books about — wait for it — tolerance and acceptance. She told the Guardian that she was treated with “shocking insolence” and “monstrous” and “horrible” behavior by people “gone mad.”
Henry Rousso knows about monstrous and horrible: He’s a leading French scholar on the Vichy regime and its collaboration with Nazi Germany. And Rousso, an Egyptian-born Jew, said he was detained for more than 10 hours after arriving in America last month to give a lecture. “The United States is no longer quite the United States,” Rousso wrote in the French Huffington Post. (our emphasis)Then there were these folks caught in a CBP dragnet:
The detention of a former prime minister of Norway coming for the National Prayer Breakfast.
CBP requiring identification from all passengers arriving in New York on a domestic flight.
An undocumented woman seeking a protection order against her boyfriend arrested in the courthouse by immigration officials.
A NASA scientist, an American-born citizen, detained and directed to turn over his phone.
Canadians alleging they were turned away at the U.S. border after telling U.S. officials that they were coming to participate in anti-Trump protests.
A British Muslim schoolteacher traveling to New York with a group of children ordered off a plane on instructions from U.S. authorities.Then there's the story of Celestine Omin, a software engineer from Nigeria who was detained for several hours because, well, you know =cough= Nigeria =cough=:
After landing, Omin waited for 20 minutes and then reached the front of the line, where a Customs and Border Protection officer asked him a series of questions. It was here that Omin realized that the job might be challenging, but getting into America could now be impossible. No one at Andela had prepared him for the new reality.
After a few minutes of grilling him about the job, the border agent escorted Omin into a small room and told him to sit down. Another hour passed before a different customs officer came in. (our emphasis)(In our fantasy world, Omin would have told the interrogators to "byte me.")
Go to the link above to find out how the crack CBP interrogators finally determined Omin might be okay to let into the US of A (but they were still suspicious!). It'll make you proud of American genius at work.
As far as the seeming increase in these "aggressive" tactics by the CBP folks?
[I]t appears that border officers, feeling emboldened by Trump, are taking it on themselves to act more aggressively.
And where would they get such an idea? Well, perhaps from the president’s tweet saying “I have instructed Homeland Security to check people coming into our country VERY CAREFULLY.” Or White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s claim that Trump wants to “take the shackles off” deportation officials. (our emphasis)The President's national security actions vill not be kvestioned!
Most of us have had experiences with good law enforcement and bad. As with any other profession, there are some people who have no business being in law enforcement because they see it as an opportunity to grind axes or simply feel powerful. We don't know about you, but these anecdotes seem more to be examples of empowered bullies than trained officers doing their jobs professionally. But maybe empowered bullies will become the rule rather than the exception in an America with a bully as the "president."
UPDATE: It's not just the boys at CBP; there are some real hard asses (emphasis on "asses") at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).