Category Archives: Politricks

Border Wall History Lessons


SDUT

Competition to build President Donald Trump’s border wall is underway with 467 companies nationwide, including 23 from San Diego, submitting bids and designs to construct what was a centerpiece promise of Trump’s campaign.

Fencing and barriers are nothing new along the U.S.-Mexico border. For nearly 30 years, fencing made from landing mats, steel mesh and concrete-filled steel bollards have been erected along nearly 700 miles of the border.

Much of that was constructed between 2007 and 2015, when the government spent an estimated $2.5 billion on border fencing projects. The work was done in populated border areas, including San Diego, and along desert mesas and in small towns in Arizona and Texas.

Much remains unknown about Trump’s wall, like what it would look like, how much it would cost, and how much more of the 2,000-mile Southwest border it would cover.

Yet a look back at some of the fencing projects undertaken during the border building boom and what has happened since they were completed can give a sense of what may be in store for border residents if the wall is constructed.

From Smuggler’s Gulch in San Diego, which was filled in with nearly 2 million cubic yards of dirt to form a massive berm after a years-long legal battle, to the Lower Rio Grande area of Texas, border barriers and fencing have helped reduce the number of people entering the United States illegally.

And they have also left a mark on the landscape that critics said have led to other problems such as flooding and erosion.

“It’s not just build the wall and forget about it,” said Oscar Romo, a researcher with UC San Diego who coordinated the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve‘s coastal training program for about a decade. “There are consequences, and we are paying for some of those consequences.”

Smuggler’s Gulch

In July 2009, a group of jubilant federal officials gathered in Smuggler’s Gulch for a ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony atop a giant earthen berm.

It marked the completion, in less than a year, of a border construction and fencing project that sealed off what had for decades been a prime route for smugglers and unauthorized immigrants.

Contractors scraped about 1.5 million cubic yards of dirt from two mesas bordering the canyon, constructing a berm more than 100 feet high. They also added a second layer of steel mesh fencing, augmenting an existing fence, and constructed a road for U.S. Border Patrol vehicles at a cost of $48.6 million.

The Smuggler’s Gulch work was one of the more expensive stretches of fencing constructed on the border, costing about $16 million per mile. And one of the most controversial.

The project faced stiff opposition, including a 2004 lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club, San Diego Audubon Society and other environmental groups. They contended the project would add large amounts of sediment and damage to the nearby Tijuana River Estuary.

But in 2005, Congress passed legislation that allowed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to waive all laws — state, local and federal — that could impede the construction of border fencing projects.

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, contractors and some of the federal officials left. But the controversy did not.

In the fall of 2009, critics complained that the government had botched a critical aspect of the work — reseeding the barren dirt slopes with vegetation to control erosion and runoff.

The then-leader of the California Coastal Commission fired off a letter in October saying the re-vegetation plan had “failed miserably,” largely because after seeding the slopes the federal government had not irrigated them properly.

Congresswoman Susan Davis, D-San Diego, also wrote a letter, as did the manager of the estuary reserve, expressing concern that the bare slopes would increase sediment flowing to the estuary. Storms the previous winter, when construction was underway, flooded the river valley and left behind what residents said was an unusual amount of mud.

In response, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said they were following a proper plan to revegetate the slopes and care for the environment.

Today, the berm slope is thick with vegetation, covering more than 70 percent of the area, said Mark Endicott, supervisory Border Patrol agent for the San Diego Sector.

The work was done over the past five years in conjunction with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as well as the San Diego County and California parks departments.

The plants have lessened the amount of sediment flowing into the estuary, Endicott said. Erosion pins that measure slope stability showed an average change in the height of the soil of 0.5 centimeters in 2014 to 2015, then 0.1 centimeters the following year.

“The successful revegetation of the area has resulted in little to no sedimentation into the estuary as a result of the fence project,” Endicott said.

Romo, who has worked in the valley for three decades, said other problems have occurred since the fence was built.

A concrete culvert constructed at the base of the berm now captures water from Mexico and the U.S. and funnels it into a channel. Romo said the culvert has increased the velocity of the water flowing into the channel, with damaging effect. The channel is eroding quickly, and more importantly the increased speed of the water is pushing the trash and sediment farther into the estuary than before.

Trash is now building up in parts of the reserve where it was not before, Romo said. Hauling the trash out of the environmentally sensitive estuary will be tedious and difficult, but eventually it will have to be done, he said.

“They modified the topography and created additional problems,” Romo said. The urgency to build — because of a congressional mandate in 2006 to construct at least 700 miles of fencing and barriers to make it harder for people to enter the U.S. illegally from Mexico — created problems.

“By doing this in a rush,” said Romo as he stood in front of the massive culvert where the river flows into the canyon, “they did not mitigate this well.”

But the fence has achieved its main purpose — to help reduce the number of unauthorized immigrants entering the U.S., Endicott said.

The number of apprehensions in the San Diego Sector has dropped significantly, from 118,721 in 2009 when the fencing was complete to 31,891 last year.

That drop tracks an overall decline in apprehensions across the Southwest border that has been trending down for a decade, before beginning to tick up slightly in 2015.

Organ Pipe in Arizona

Around the time that work on Smuggler’s Gulch was starting, another section of fence was being constructed to the east in Arizona.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument lies next to the international border, about two hours west of Tucson. In early 2008, the government built 5.2 miles of steel mesh fencing there. Activists and monument land managers said at the time they were concerned that the design would block the flow of water across the border, possibly causing floods.

But the Homeland Security Department went ahead with the $21.3 million project built by Omaha, Neb., company Kiewit. The same company built the Smuggler’s Gulch project.

A storm in July 2008 dumped about 2 inches of rain in less than 90 minutes around the border crossing town of Lukeville. The fence, even with wide iron grates at the base to allow water to flow through, essentially acted like a dam. Debris stuck against the bottom, blocking the water flow and causing flooding to the nearby port of entry as well as at businesses in Lukeville.

One company unsuccessfully sued the government for $6 million for flood damage and property loss. In the aftermath, the government installed a series of gates in the fence near Lukeville that would be lifted in times of flooding to allow water to pass through.

Then, in August 2011, another summertime storm hit — but the gates didn’t work as planned. Debris again built up at the base of the fence causing not only flooding but also knocking over a 40-foot-long section of the fence.

Randy Serraglio, Southwest conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the problem at Organ Pipe stemmed from the Department of Homeland Security not listening to local land managers at the monument site and area landowners who warned about the flooding dangers.

“They were told by the land manager at Organ Pipe it was not a good location to put up the infrastructure they were trying to build there,” Serraglio said. “They just really rushed forward blindly with construction.”

There has been no reported flooding in the area for several years. Border agents now routinely go on patrol and clear debris from the base of the fence, Serraglio said.

Lessons learned

Trump’s proposal for a wall is moving quickly but also hitting resistance. Customs and Border Protection is reviewing bids and hopes to select by June up to 20 companies to construct prototypes in San Diego.

In testimony this month before Congress, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said a solid border wall would not be built “from sea to shining sea.” Instead, he said, the department would build a wall where agents and immigration enforcement officials say one is needed.

Those who are concerned about more fencing along the border welcome such comments. “DHS should take away from what happened at Organ Pipe that there are some places where you should not build a border wall. Period,” Serraglio said.

The pressure to begin construction though is troubling to some. Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina, who is also the executive director of the environmental group Wildcoast, which opposed the Smuggler’s Gulch project, said the rush to build and not weighing thoroughly what the potential problems are is the wrong course.

“That is what I get concerned about, in this rush to build a wall,” Dedina said. “We are talking about some of the most remote parts of the country. It’s simplistic to think you can plan this kind of a fence project without thinking through the engineering and earthworks that will be needed in some areas.”

The federal government spent $2.5 billion to build nearly 700 miles of fencing. Estimates for the wall Trump wants to build vary widely, from a $21 billion Homeland Security Department estimate to $38 billion in an MIT study.

In a March 28 letter to Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, wrote that the Homeland Security budget request for the coming year calls for $2.6 billion to build less than 75 miles of fence.

McCaskill said the figures came from a briefing CBP officials gave to members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

She pointed out the $2.6 billion request works out to a cost of $36.6 million per mile, or a total cost for the border’s 1,827 miles of $66.9 billion.

The per-mile estimate is more than than twice the per-mile cost for the Smuggler’s Gulch project eight years ago.

Border Wall Design Prototypes


UTSD

President Donald Trump’s proposed wall with Mexico will kick off in the San Diego border community of Otay Mesa, U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed Monday.

The community is home to one of two border crossings in San Diego and will be the site where 20 chosen bidders will erect prototypes of the envisioned wall. Winners will be selected around June 1, the agency said.

While funding for the massive infrastructure project is still not set, up to 450 companies submitted designs last week. The agency’s bid said roughly 20 companies will be selected to build the prototypes — 30 feet long and up to 30 feet high.

The models will be built on a roughly quarter-mile strip of federal land within 120 feet of the border, said a U.S. official with knowledge of the plans quoted by The Associated Press.

Border Patrol spokesman Ralph DeSio did not say exactly where the construction will take place, saying only that it would occur in the Otay Mesa area. He added that plans were subject to change.

Of the possible border locations in the region, building the prototypes near the Otay Mesa crossing makes the most sense because it allows companies to test out designs in a heavily trafficked area that still has room and flexibility, according to Eric Frost, director of San Diego State University’s graduate program in homeland security.

Frost, interviewed before the location was confirmed by the federal agency, said Otay Mesa would be a better place to start than the desert to the east or near a river — often empty locales.

“A lot of trucks already use it,” he said of the Otay Mesa crossing. “You want to look at how they actually interact with the fence.”

Construction of the models, which will likely take place in June, may attract protesters, but law enforcement officials said they were committed to supporting First Amendment rights.

“As part of our community policing philosophy, we work closely with any party or group that wishes to express their views in a law abiding manner,” San Diego police spokesman Lt. Scott Wahl said in a statement.

Officials declined to say if officers or deputies would be on site while the construction takes place, but made clear the location will be monitored by law enforcement agencies and Customs and Border Protection.

Security was already an issue for companies bidding on the wall. In a Q&A on FedBizOpps, the federal contracts website, some bidders asked what would happen if employees came under attack during construction, if they could use firearms in states with stricter gun laws and if the government would provide legal assistance if they had to use deadly force.

Customs and Border Protection officials said it would respond if needed to an attack, but that companies were responsible for their own security. The agency also would not waive state gun laws or provide legal support for deadly force.

Beyond just prototypes, CNN said it reviewed documents revealing that wall construction could start in San Diego. The initial $999 million request would fund 14 miles of new wall along the city’s border with Mexico, 28 miles of new levee wall barriers and six miles of new border wall in the Rio Grande Valley region. The request would also cover 14 miles of replacement fencing in San Diego, CNN said.

Frost said San Diego would be a good place to start the wall, as opposed to Texas where rivers and private property will likely complicate construction. Those locations are also a long way from resources needed for building.

“You’re not spending all your transportation out to nowhere,” he said.

Frost added the wall could be a benefit to both nations if, for example, it helps alleviate notoriously slow wait times for trucks crossing through Otay Mesa. He envisions an “intelligent wall” with sensors and wireless technology that can start tracking trucks before they reach a border guard, speeding up the process to move goods between the two nations.

“There’s a positive in here, if you can design a wall that works way better,” Frost said.

Funding for the wall has not been secured. Trump said during the election that Mexico would pay for the wall but has since sought out federal money. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that in a recent meeting with Mexico Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray they did not discuss Mexico paying for the wall.

Thug’s List Ensenada


Bajadock: As Angie’s list provides a listing of service providers, Ensenada now has a Lista de Ladrones(“Thugs/Malandros”) via Facebook.  We know that criminals are often caught then released.  Public servants?  Ai Yai Yai!!!

afntijuana

BC ENSENADA APRIL 2, 2017 (AFN) .- Given the increasing number of stolen vehicles, thefts in commerce and assaults, citizens of this port spread through social networks, photographs and data of alleged thieves to find their whereabouts, Recover their belongings or at least prevent the population.

This is a Facebook group called “Gallery of Malandros Ensenada“, which is about to reach 5 thousand members in just one month. According to its first publication, it was created on 28 February.

The description of the forum says “Welcome to the group, which will expose injustices and make public denunciation against the bad citizen or public servant; It remains this space to make nonconformity, complaints of robberies (in any of its kind).

He also points out that users can freely form a “gallery of mischief” to warn people, be wary of assaults, abuse of authority, corruption, or any act of “bad government” or common citizen.

Due to the implementation of the New Criminal Justice System or Adversarial Accusatory System, which prohibits the media from exposing detainees for crimes, Internet users use the social network to spread the uncensored faces of those who are criminals.

Among the publications are photographs of individuals, captured after citizen assurances or even when they are on board official vehicles. There are also images downloaded from the personal profiles of suspected thugs.

Members of the forum have shared their experiences in becoming victims of illicit acts, they also disseminate photographs of stolen vehicles and their data, they also circulate videotapes of thefts that occurred in commercial establishments or on public roads.

In the same group there are users who promote the execution of citizens against criminals; Likewise exhort the denunciation of those who sell stolen items.

Gas Station Strike March 30


elvigia

Gasoline companies from Baja California and Sonora will suspend work at gas stations of both entities for a few hours next March 30, in protest of the charges that they consider excessive for the certification of the quality of the fuels.

Pablo González Córdova, president of the Mexican Association of Petrol Employers, reported that it has already been confirmed that this protest could be carried out in more than 500 stations of the two states.

The strike would be from eight in the morning to two in the afternoon of March 30, and one of the causes, said González Córdova, is the claim of the federal government to charge 400,000 pesos a year to each service station For the certification of the quality of the fuels that are sold.

Likewise, there is a rejection of the schedule established by the Energy Regulatory Commission to continue the process of price release, when the right conditions do not yet exist.

He explained that, according to the new regulations, each station has to carry out four tests per year of certification of the quality of the fuels it expends, and each one of these analyzes has a cost of one hundred thousand pesos.

For each year they would be paying 400 thousand pesos for each season, which will affect mainly the small and medium businessmen of the sector, who will not be able to make those payments, assured the president of the Mexican Association of Gasoline Employers.

In addition, only certain laboratories authorized by the Agency for Safety, Energy and Environment, Asea, are the only ones that can make such revisions, which is a “cochupo” round, said González Cordoba.

Border Wall by San Diego Contractors


Bajadock: I would like to hear exactly how the new border wall “pushes” Mexican companies away from the US, according to professor James Gerber of San Diego State University.

kpbs.org

San Diego-based companies that want to help build President Donald Trump’s border wall are rushing to submit proposals before the deadline next Wednesday.

Finalists selected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection will have to build a 30-foot long prototype in San Diego. Hundreds of companies across the U.S. have expressed interest in bidding.

Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, said it’s no surprise the government wants to start the border wall in San Diego, since it’s the second-largest Border Patrol sector. San Diego was also the place where the first border fence was erected.

“For a very long time San Diego was really ground zero for the Border Patrol in terms of illegal entries,” Moran said. “And it’s an area that has deep ties with government contractors and also have a large availability of area and diverse terrain where we can test our different strategies or technology.”

The Department of Homeland Security filed two requests for proposals last week, one for a concrete barrier and one for a barrier made of “other” materials permitting visibility of Mexico.

The wall must be between 18 and 30 feet tall and “aesthetically pleasing” on the U.S. side. It must prevent tunneling and climbing and resist a physical breach for at least one hour when exposed to a sledgehammer, a car jack, a pick axe and several other tools. A 10-by-10 foot version of the wall must be built and tested in San Diego, giving local companies an advantage because they know the terrain.

RELATED: San Diego Companies Wait To Bid On Trump’s Border Wall

It’s unclear whether construction on the wall will focus on the 1,300 miles that remain unfenced, or whether officials plan to rebuild the existing 700 miles of fencing – made of steel columns, corrugated steel plates and other materials.

Currently, about 700 miles of fencing exist along the 2,000-mile border betwe...

KPBS NEWS

Currently, about 700 miles of fencing exist along the 2,000-mile border between the U.S. and Mexico.

One San Diego-based company that wants to build the wall is R.E. Staite Engineering, located on the San Diego Bay next to the naval base. It has led major construction projects all along the continent’s West Coast and led cleanup efforts after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

“We’re attracted to very complex, difficult projects in harsh environments – that’s what we do best,” said Ralph Hicks, vice president of governmental affairs.

Hicks said the company sees the wall as an economic opportunity for the region.

“We’re focused on the work. We’re not a political body, left or right or what have you, we go after the job and provide high paying jobs for our workforce and great opportunities for our company,” he said.

Most of the companies that have expressed interest in building the wall, including those led by Mexicans and a Puerto Rico-based company, have told reporters that they are interested for apolitical reasons.

Another San Diego company that wants to get involved is vScenario, which offers building planning services that harness technology and security expertise of former military professionals. Vice president Brian Holley said the company wants to help the government visualize the wall in the early stages, to avoid costly adjustments down the line.

“If the wall goes forward, that’s a decision by the president, by Washington, and we as a business and as taxpayers just simply want to make sure the wall is done in a cost-effective, productive way,” Holley said.

vScenario has specialized in security around electrical power grid facilities.

“If we were to be doing sections of this wall, we will continue to hire veterans and I think it’s a great way to bring back those patriots into our society and get them into the business world,” Holley said.

James Gerber, a professor of economics at San Diego State University, said border fence construction in the late 1990s created a lot of jobs, but that they were temporary.

The San Diego-based company vScenario created a 3D model of the existing bord...

VSCENARIO / KORUS

The San Diego-based company vScenario created a 3D model of the existing border fence to plan the wall.

“It’s like building a pyramid in the desert. Yeah, you get some jobs out of that, but the jobs disappear once the construction is finished,” he said.

Some estimates put the border wall construction cost upwards of $20 billion. Trump has claimed that Mexico will reimburse the U.S. for those expenses, but it remains unclear how that would happen. Mexican leaders, including President Enrique Peña Nieto, have vowed repeatedly that Mexico will never pay for the wall.

Gerber said the economic impact on the U.S. could be negative, in part by pushing Mexico further away as a trade partner.

Mexican industry leaders are already drifting towards partners in South America, Europe and Asia, offended by Trump’s border wall and other policies.

“They have been connected so tightly to the U.S. because of its proximity, but the wall is in effect – you can think of this economically – is pushing the U.S. and Mexico farther apart,” Gerber said.

Mexico’s largest cement manufacturer, Cemex, initially expressed interest in bidding on the border wall. But after a public outcry the company no longer plans to bid.

Earlier this month, three California Assemblymembers announced legislation that would punish the companies that end up building the wall by requiring the state’s pension funds to divest from them.

“The people of California don’t want to invest in the hateful values that the Trump wall represents,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a Democrat who represents south San Diego County.

R.E. Staite Engineering declined to comment on the proposed legislation.

Holley of vScenario sent KPBS the following statement: “Shaming U.S. companies out of participating will likely drive the cost of the wall up and shift profits to foreign companies.”

CBP Inspects Phones


nbcnews

When Buffalo, New York couple Akram Shibly and Kelly McCormick returned to the U.S. from a trip to Toronto on Jan. 1, 2017, U.S. Customs & Border Protection officers held them for two hours, took their cellphones and demanded their passwords.

“It just felt like a gross violation of our rights,” said Shibly, a 23-year-old filmmaker born and raised in New York. But he and McCormick complied, and their phones were searched.

Three days later, they returned from another trip to Canada and were stopped again by CBP.

“One of the officers calls out to me and says, ‘Hey, give me your phone,'” recalled Shibly. “And I said, ‘No, because I already went through this.'”

The officer asked a second time..

Within seconds, he was surrounded: one man held his legs, another squeezed his throat from behind. A third reached into his pocket, pulling out his phone. McCormick watched her boyfriend’s face turn red as the officer’s chokehold tightened.

Then they asked McCormick for her phone.

“I was not about to get tackled,” she said. She handed it over.

Shibly and McCormick’s experience is not unique. In 25 cases examined by NBC News, American citizens said that CBP officers at airports and border crossings demanded that they hand over their phones and their passwords, or unlock them.

The travelers came from across the nation, and were both naturalized citizens and people born and raised on American soil. They traveled by plane and by car at different times through different states. Businessmen, couples, senior citizens, and families with young kids, questioned, searched, and detained for hours when they tried to enter or leave the U.S. None were on terror watchlists. One had a speeding ticket. Some were asked about their religion and their ethnic origins, and had the validity of their U.S. citizenship questioned.

What most of them have in common — 23 of the 25 — is that they are Muslim, like Shibly, whose parents are from Syria.

American citizens Akram Shibly, left, and Kelly McCormick had their phones searched as they reentered the U.S. at Niagara Falls, New York on two separate trips in January 2017. They say Shibly was put in a chokehold when he refused to hand over his phone on the second crossing. Michael Adamucci / for NBC News

Data provided by the Department of Homeland Security shows that searches of cellphones by border agents has exploded, growing fivefold in just one year, from fewer than 5,000 in 2015 to nearly 25,000 in 2016.

According to DHS officials, 2017 will be a blockbuster year. Five-thousand devices were searched in February alone, more than in all of 2015.

“That’s shocking,” said Mary Ellen Callahan, former chief privacy officer at the Department of Homeland Security. She wrote the rules and restrictions on how CBP should conduct electronic searches back in 2009. “That [increase] was clearly a conscious strategy, that’s not happenstance.”

“This really puts at risk both the security and liberty of the American people,” said Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. “Law abiding Americans are being caught up in this digital dragnet.”

“This is just going to grow and grow and grow,” said Senator Wyden. “There’s tremendous potential for abuse here.”

What Changed?

What CBP agents call “detaining” cellphones didn’t start after Donald Trump’s election. The practice began a decade ago, late in the George W. Bush administration, but was highly focused on specific individuals.

The more aggressive tactics of the past two years, two senior intelligence officials told NBC News, were sparked by a string of domestic incidents in 2015 and 2016 in which the watch list system and the FBI failed to stop American citizens from conducting attacks. The searches also reflect new abilities to extract contact lists, travel patterns and other data from phones very quickly.

DHS has published more than two dozen reports detailing its extensive technological capability to forensically extract data from mobile devices, regardless of password protection on most Apple and Android phones. The reports document its proven ability to access deleted call logs, videos, photos, and emails to name a few, in addition to the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram apps..

But the officials caution that rhetoric about a Muslim registry and ban during the presidential campaign also seems to have emboldened federal agents to act more forcefully.

“The shackles are off,” said Hugh Handeyside, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project. “We see individual officers and perhaps supervisors as well pushing those limits, exceeding their authority and violating people’s rights.”

And multiple sources told NBC News that law enforcement and the Intelligence Community are exploiting a loophole to collect intelligence.

Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement needs at least reasonable suspicion if they want to search people or their possessions within the United States. But not at border crossings, and not at airport terminals.

“The Fourth Amendment, even for U.S. citizens, doesn’t apply at the border,” said Callahan. “That’s under case law that goes back 150 years.”

The ACLU’s Handeyside noted that while the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement doesn’t apply at the border, its “general reasonableness” requirement still does, and is supposed to protect against unreasonable searches and seizures. “That may seem nuanced, but it’s a critical distinction, said Handeyside. “We don’t surrender our constitutional rights at the border.”

Customs and Border officers can search travelers without any level of suspicion. They have the legal authority to go through any object crossing the border within 100 miles, including smartphones and laptops. They have the right to take devices away from travelers for five days without providing justification. In the absence of probable cause, however, they have to give the devices back.

CBP also searches people on behalf of other federal law enforcement agencies, sending its findings back to partners in the DEA, FBI, Treasury and the National Counterterrorism Center, among others.

Callahan thinks that CBP’s spike in searches means it is exploiting the loophole “in order to get information they otherwise might hot have been able to.”

On January 31, an engineer from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was pulled into additional screening upon his return to the U.S. after a two-week vacation in Chile. Despite being cleared by the Global Entry program, Sidd Bikkannavar received an “X” on his customs form. He is not Muslim, and he is not from any of the seven countries named in President Trump’s original “travel ban” executive order. Half his family comes from India but he was born and raised in California.

Bikkannavar was brought into a closed room and told to hand over his phone and passcode. He paid particular notice to the form CBP handed him which explained it had the right to copy the contents of the phone, and that the penalty for refusal was “detention.”

“I didn’t know if that meant detention of the phone or me and I didn’t want to find out,” said Bikkannavar. He tried to refuse but the officer repeatedly demanded the PIN. Eventually he acquiesced.

“Once they had that, they had everything,” Bikkannavar said. That access allowed CBP officers to review the backend of his social media accounts, work emails, call and text history, photos and other apps. He had expected security might physically search any travelers for potential weapons but accessing his digital data felt different. “Your whole digital life is on your phone.”

The officers disappeared with his phone and PIN. They returned 30 minutes later and let him go home.

Sidd Bikkannavar poses for a portrait in 2014. Takashi Akaishi

CBP also regularly searches people leaving the country.

On February 9, Haisam Elsharkawi was stopped by security while trying to board his flight out of Los Angeles International Airport. He said that six Customs officers told him he was randomly selected. They demanded access to his phone and when he refused, Elsharkawi said they handcuffed him, locked him in the airport’s lower level and asked questions including how he became a citizen. Elsharkawi thought he knew his rights and demanded access to legal counsel.

“They said if I need a lawyer, then I must be guilty of something,” said Elsharkawi, and Egyptian-born Muslim and naturalized U.S. citizen. After four hours of questioning in detention, he unlocked his smartphone and, after a search, was eventually released. Elsharkawi said he intends to sue the Department of Homeland Security.

The current policy has not been updated since 2009. Jayson Ahern, who served in CBP under both Bush and Obama, signed off on the current policy. He said the electronic searches are supposed to be based on specific, articulable facts that raise security concerns. They are not meant to be random or routine or applied liberally to border crossers. “That’s reckless and that’s how you would lose the authority, never mind the policy.”

The Customs & Border Patrol policy manual says that electronic devices fall under the same extended search doctrine that allows them to scan bags in the typical security line.

“As the threat landscape changes, so does CBP,” a spokesperson told NBC News.

Since the policy was written in 2009, legal advocates argue, several court cases have set new precedents that could make some CBP electronic searches illegal.

Several former DHS officials pointed to a 2014 Supreme Court ruling in Riley v California that determined law enforcement needed a warrant to search electronic devices when a person is being arrested. The court ruled unanimously, and Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion.

“Modern cellphones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans ‘the privacies of life,'” wrote Roberts. “The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought.”

Because that case happened outside of the border context, however, CBP lawyers have repeatedly asserted in court that the ruling does not apply to border searches.

For now a Department of Justice internal bulletin has instructed that, unless border officers have a search warrant, they need to take protective measures to limit intrusions, and make sure their searches do not access travelers’ digital cloud data. The ‘cloud’ is all content not directly stored on a device, which includes anything requiring internet to access, like email and social media.

Former DHS officials who helped design and implement the search policy said they agreed with that guidance.

Wyden Pushes to Change the Policy

On February 20, Sen. Wyden wrote to DHS Secretary John Kelly demanding details on electronic search-practices used on U.S. citizens, and referred to the extent of electronic searches as government “overreach”. As of publication, he had yet to receive an answer.

Now Sen. Wyden says that as early as next week he plans to propose a bill that would require CBP to at least obtain a warrant to search electronics of U.S. citizens, and explicitly prevent officers from demanding passwords.

“The old rules … seem to be on the way to being tossed in the garbage can,” said Senator Wyden. “I think it is time to update the law.”

Akram Shibly at home in Buffalo, Sunday March, 12, 2017. Michael Adamucci / for NBC News

Asked about the Shibly case, a CBP spokesperson declined to comment, but said the Homeland Security Inspector General is investigating. The spokesperson said the agency can’t comment on open investigations or particular travelers, but that it “firmly denies any accusations of racially profiling travelers based on nationality, race, sex, religion, faith, or spiritual beliefs.”

Explaining the sharp increase in electronic searches, a department spokesperson told NBC News: “CBP has adapted and adjusted to align with current threat information, which is based on intelligence.” A spokesman also noted that searches of citizens leaving the U.S. protect against the theft of American industrial and national security secrets.

After repeated communications, the Department of Homeland Security never responded to NBC News’ requests for comments. Nonetheless, the Homeland Security Inspector General is currently auditing CBP’s electronic search practices.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also has filed two dozen complaints against CBP this year for issues profiling Muslim Americans. CAIR and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are considering legal action against the government for what they consider to be unconstitutional searches at the border.

Rats Infest City Hall


 

ensenada.net

In the Municipal Palace building there is an infestation of rats whose waste has become a source of infection for workers.

Mayor Marco Novelo Osuna, confirmed to Ensenada.net, that employees of central offices complained because there are traces of rodents in booksellers, desks and corners of the public good.  Supposedly from the council room they took out two rats, assured the annoying workers.

Distressed, the munícipe, mentioned that they will have fumigated from the parking lot, in the basement, to the fourth floor.

The building of the town hall is going through the worst moment of neglect because in recent years there was no investment for maintenance which caused the appearance of these animals.

The municipal president warned that they will clean up the pipes but that this work will be accompanied by a hygiene campaign by workers who usually store food at desks or leave trash cans overflowing.

“We are cleaning everything, I started with the bathrooms, the records were a cochinero, there we have about 15 thousand dollars invested barely,” he estimated during a tour of the rooms on the first floor.

It still does not have a quote of how much the restoration of the municipal palace will cost but anticipated that only repairing the ceiling will leave in about 700 thousand pesos, and from there it will start with office structures as well as painting.

Yesterday Monday none of the two elevators worked so he requested the presence of technicians from a private company to carry out the repair of the rails.

 

Plastic Bag Ban in Ensenada


ENSENADA BC MARCH 7, 2017 (AFN) .- The Cabildo unanimously approved an opinion related to the ban on the delivery of plastic bags other than fast biodegradation.

Councilor Jorge Emilio Martínez Villardaga, who presented the proposal, mentioned that, from now on, establishments and businesses will have a grace period of 180 days to comply with this provision.

“After this period, the gift of these in the various commercial establishments will be prohibited. With the adoption of this measure we would stop producing annually the equivalent of 9 times the weight of 423 patrols that are with us in Ensenada, “said the mayor.

Martínez Villardaga noted that, with this action, Ensenada becomes one of the most avant-garde in the world in terms of inhibiting plastic waste in favor of the environment.

He commented that in 2002 there were 5 billion plastic bags in the world, and today more than 500 billion plastic bags are consumed globally. “As a consequence 1 million birds and more than 100 thousand marine animals die each year as a result of contamination by plastic bags.
The overuse of polyethylene plastic bags has a negative environmental impact because they degrade between 100 to 400 years, “he noted.

He indicated that some particles that emit plastic bags when they disintegrate are toxic; The unrecycled bags become trash, a part of them ending up in the pipeline causing flooding.
The approved proposal consists of:

1. Include the activity of use, facilitation and gift, by commercial establishments in the text of article 40, which regulates the management of solid waste such as polyethylene plastic bags.

2. Include the activity of utilization, facilitation and gift, in the text of article 41, which empowers the administrative unit to apply this new provision in its field of competence.

3. The prohibition of the provision of polyethylene plastic bags (which degrade between 100 and 400 years) by the commercial, commercial or service centers, on the other hand, allow the gift of reusable bags (cloth bags) or Those made with materials of early biodegradation, the above by means of the creation of article 43.

By tying the regulation of this activity with the Environmental Protection Act for the State of Baja California, article 141 and in compliance with the state and federal provisions:

General Law for the Prevention and Integral Management of Wastes.

Law of Prevention and Integral Management of Waste of the State of Baja California.

Canadian Wall?


The border officer’s union in Canada wants to beef up security along the United States border after 382 people made asylum claims at a single entry point in January and a further 200 entered illegally in the last week.

Jean-Pierre Fortin, president of the Customs and Immigration Union, said he believes there are more illegal crossings taking place than officials are aware of.

One port in Quebec has experienced a particularly large number of asylum-seekers and illegal immigrants – the Saint Bernard Lecolle in the small town of Emerson, Manitoba, just outside of Montreal.

Fortin said that last week alone, at least 200 immigrants entered the country illegally near the Lecolle port. He said the influx began in November 2016 – the month Donald Trump was elected president.

The border officer's union in Canada believes that the country needs to upgrade presence along the United States border after 382 people reportedly made asylum claims at a single entry point in January

The border officer’s union in Canada believes that the country needs to upgrade presence along the United States border after 382 people reportedly made asylum claims at a single entry point in January

Jean-Pierre Fortin, president of the Customs and Immigration Union, said those on the ground have said there are more illegal crossings taking place than officials are aware of

Jean-Pierre Fortin, president of the Customs and Immigration Union, said those on the ground have said there are more illegal crossings taking place than officials are aware of

Officials say that people are crossing the border illegally about eight kilometers down the road with their belongings in tow, according to CTV News.

The CIU are suggesting a 300-person team to man the areas in between official entry points – and that the border right now is ‘like swiss cheese’.

He continued: ‘Since last November up to now, there’s a clear trend. It’s climbing. It’s going up.’

Fortin believes that in order to provide the security he would find ideal, more than 1,000 jobs would need to be reinstated that were previously cut.

One port in Quebec has experienced a particularly large number of asylum-seekers and illegal immigrants - the Saint Bernard Lecolle in the small town of Emerson, Manitoba, just outside of Montreal

One port in Quebec has experienced a particularly large number of asylum-seekers and illegal immigrants – the Saint Bernard Lecolle in the small town of Emerson, Manitoba, just outside of Montreal

The government  is willing to put more resources in place to deal with the influx of asylum-seekers from the United States, federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Saturday.

Goodale visited Emerson, Manitoba, a small border town that has seen more than 200 illicit crossings so far this year.

‘We all need to work together. We have to have good communication with one another. This is a set of issues that span national, provincial and local responsibilities,’ Goodale told reporters at a conference Saturday.

Goodale announced US$22,000 to cover extra costs borne by Emerson-Franklin’s volunteer fire department and other agencies in the community, saying more resources will become available.

Dramatic photos show asylum seekers flooding into Canada across unmanned borders every day from the United States amid fears of a Donald Trump presidency. An extended family of eight people from Colombia were detained by the Canadian Mounted Police officers near Hemmingford, Quebec, last week

Dramatic photos show asylum seekers flooding into Canada across unmanned borders every day from the United States amid fears of a Donald Trump presidency. An extended family of eight people from Colombia were detained by the Canadian Mounted Police officers near Hemmingford, Quebec, last week

A group of asylum seekers  two men, a woman and a baby  cross the border illegally from the United States into Canada near Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec

A group of asylum seekers two men, a woman and a baby cross the border illegally from the United States into Canada near Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec

More asylum seekers are crossing illegally into Canada from the U.S., many trekking across snow-covered fields along unguarded stretches of the border, in the wake of the Trump administration’s push to tighten immigration rules

More asylum seekers are crossing illegally into Canada from the U.S., many trekking across snow-covered fields along unguarded stretches of the border, in the wake of the Trump administration’s push to tighten immigration rules

At least 450 people crossed illegally in January and February, despite bitter cold that usually discourages such traffic, government officials said. In all of last year, the total was 2,400

At least 450 people crossed illegally in January and February, despite bitter cold that usually discourages such traffic, government officials said. In all of last year, the total was 2,400

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency have shifted some resources in southern Manitoba to the Emerson area. The border services agency recently set up a trailer to help process the border-crossers.

The Manitoba government has said the influx has created more demand for housing and other support services.

Migrants have been crossing through fields and ditches because, under the Canada-United States Safe Third Country Agreement, they are turned back at official border crossings if they have already made refugee claims in the U.S.

Canada, however, adheres to the UN Convention on Refugees, obligating them to hear out asylum claims for people who are already within the territories of the country, which could be prompting the increased illegal entries.

Unaccompanied minors and those with close relatives in Canada are permitted to make asylum claims from the United States at the border entry.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4284086/Canada-border-control-union-suggests-increased-patrols.html#ixzz4aYcNtUud
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How to Handle Immigration Detention


Bajadock: who is going to publish something similar for U.S. citizens living illegally in Mexico? 

cis.org

More than a decade after publishing a comic book showing how to sneak into the United States, Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has created an infographic video to advise Mexican illegal aliens in the United States how to prepare for possible detention by immigration authorities.

Titled “Recommendations in Case of Immigration Detention”, the video outlines seven steps to be taken. These recommendations are divided into two sections.

The first section, “How to prepare in case of immigration detention”, includes the following:

  1. Elaborate an emergency plan: take care of your family especially minors. If they were born in the U.S.A., go to the nearest consulate and register them as Mexicans.
  2. Research what documents you should always carry with you and keep a copy of all your documentation in a safe place.
  3. If you require immigration guidance, go to your consulate, they will give you information about reliable lawyers.
  4. Know your rights in case you are detained in your home, workplace, or on the street.

Section two, “How to act in case of immigration detention”, gives the following recommendations:

  1. If authorities come to your home:
    1. Do not run away.
    2. Do not open the door and stay calm.
    3. Do not reveal your immigration status.
    4. Ask what they are there for.
    5. Request an interpreter if you need it.
    6. Ask that they show you the warrant of arrest and/or removal through the window, check that it has your name, address, and signature of the judge.
    7. If they do not have a court order you can refuse to let them in.
  2. If the authorities enter your home without a warrant of arrest and/or removal: ask for names and badge numbers, tell them that you do not consent to the search.
  3. If the authorities detain you:
    1. Remain silent.
    2. Do not reveal your immigration status.
    3. Ask to speak with your nearest Mexican consulate.
    4. Contact your lawyer.
    5. Don’t sign anything.
    6. Find out who arrested you.
    7. Request an interpreter if you need it.
    8. Do not lie.
    9. Do not hand in forged documents

The video also reminds viewers that an ICE administrative order (Form I-200, I-205) does not give authorities permission to enter your home. It then concludes by instructing nationals to go to a Mexican consulate or call the Center for Information and Assistance to Mexicans (CIAM). The Mexican government announced the CIAM hotline as one of eleven actions to support Mexicans in the United States after Donald Trump won the presidential election.

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MEXICO LAUNCHES NATIONWIDE EFFORT IN US TO HELP MIGRANTS

ap.org

Not only is the Mexican government not building a wall; it’s spending $50 million to beef up its legal aid to migrants who fear deportation, a response to President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

All 50 Mexican consulates in the U.S. on Friday launched legal assistance centers to form partnerships with nonprofit groups and tap lawyers to help those fearing Trump’s policies.

The diplomatic effort comes as the two countries are in a rift over Trump’s plans for a border wall. While Trump says Mexico will pay for it one way or another, Mexico says it won’t. It was also unveiled less than two weeks after new guidelines came out aimed at aggressively detaining and deporting immigrants by increasing the number of federal agents and strengthening cooperation with local law enforcement.

Miami’s Mexican consul general, Jose Antonio Zabalgoitia, said Friday that these centers would become “authentic advocates of the rights of Mexican migrants.”

“What changes today is that we are prioritizing legal matters over everything. Previously, we didn’t have the need to seek so much legal support for our people,” he said. “But now, we need to protect them against an eventual deportation.”

Mexican consulates are forming partnerships with law schools, immigration clinics and nonprofit groups that litigate on behalf of immigrants. The centers are staffed with Mexican lawyers who can refer cases to organizations or clinics. They are also reaching out to private law firms interested in taking on pro-bono work.

Mexican foreign minister Luis Videgaray visited New York City’s consulate Friday and called the effort “a moral imperative.”

“It is something that we will continue to do by obligation and conviction,” Videgaray said.

Consulates from Mexico and other Central American nations have been juggling numerous inquiries in recent months from migrants concerned about their fate and that of their U.S.-born children.

Zabalgoitia said the increase in requests for documents and help is “enormous,” as he pointed to a waiting room with dozens of people carrying folders of documents in need of birth certificates, Mexican passports and other identifications. “I used to sign two birth certificates a week. Only yesterday, I signed 15.”

The increasing demand comes from people like Gloria Portillo, who went to the Mexican consulate in Phoenix on Friday to renew her passport. Her visa expired three years ago, and now she is trying to start the process of becoming a legal resident after marrying a U.S. citizen but fears something could happen in the meantime.

“We’ve been here all of our lives, we have kids, and of course we’re afraid to be deported,” she said, also speaking of friends and relatives living in the U.S. illegally.

Dozens of people visited the consulate in St. Paul, Minnesota, some lining up along the walls and asking the consul general questions. In the Philadelphia mission, which also covers Delaware and southern New Jersey, daily appointments at the consulate have doubled to 400 people, Consul General Alicia Kerber-Palma said. Near Boston, Mexican diplomats have been meeting with families at churches and community events to explain the challenges of claiming U.S.-born children, without dual nationality, after deportation.

Mexican diplomats in Houston, where half a million Mexican immigrants live, said requests for Mexican birth certificates at the consulate are up 50 percent since Trump begin announcing tough measures to curb illegal immigration.

“The tolerance is gone. I think that’s the best way of describing it,” said Oscar Solis, a first secretary of the Mexican consulate in Houston. “It’s like in wars. They come for one person and many who are innocent – or not really involved – end up paying.”

Divina Ciriaco, a 45-year-old housekeeper who lives in the Miami area, said she is gathering all the Mexican documents she would need for her U.S.-born boy to go along with her if she is deported.

“We live in fear of going back to Mexico, to the violence, the poverty we suffered,” said Ciriaco, who migrated along with her husband and two children 20 years ago from the state of Guerrero. She gave birth to her third child in Miami. “Now, it’s just a matter of waiting for that day to come.”

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