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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. 

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Re-Evaluating Terrorism Cases, Leads to Ensure Nothing Was Missed

FBI file photo

FBI file photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is re-evaluating prior terrorism cases and tips to ensure that nothing was overlooked during the previous investigations.

A top official told the Associated Press that the review of tips of terrorism cases over the past three years is an effort to “err on the side of caution. 

The idea is to “refine and adapt to the threat, and part of that is always making sure you cover your bases,” the official said.

One eye-opening revelation over the past several years is that people under investigation for terrorism ended up committing acts of extremism.

One of the was the Orlando nightclub shooter, who was known to the FBI as a potential terrorist.

FBI on Hunt for Man Who Threatened to Shoot up Schools, Public Officials

Suspect Joseph Jakubowsk

Suspect Joseph Jakubowsk

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is on the hunt for a burglary suspect who sent a manifesto to President Trump, threatening to use stolen firearms against schools and public officials.

Joseph Jakubowski is accused of burglarizing a Wisconsin gun shop on April 4 before disappearing.

“A large quantity of high-end handguns and rifles were stolen and the suspect fled the scene,” authorities said in a statement.

The 32-year-old remained at large Sunday night, “despite extensive efforts to locate and capture him, officials with the Rock County Sheriff’s Office told Fox6 Now

Authorities also warned schools to be on the look out.

The White House has confirmed that it received the 161-page manifesto.

It “includes grievances against government and personal angst toward anyone or anything other than natural law or rule,” the Rock County Sheriff’s Office said.

Boulder Editorial: Justice Department Undermines Police Reforms in Numerous Cities

Photo by Steve Neavling.

Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Editorial Board
Boulder Daily Camera

More than a dozen cities, including Ferguson, Mo., have spent arduous months hammering out consent decrees with the U.S. Justice Department to institute much-needed police and judicial reforms aimed in large part at reducing enforcement disparities that unfairly target poor and minority communities. The cooperation of local police departments was key in reaching these agreements, which makes them partners in fixing what’s wrong.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions now proposes meddling with a cooperative formula that’s working. Last week, he ordered a review of Justice Department consent decrees and other interventions, threatening to reverse progress designed to halt the unequal application of justice around the country.

Sessions’ unfortunate decision could undermine a lot of hard work in the 25 cities whose police departments — including Ferguson’s — worked with the Obama administration’s Justice Department. In 14 cases, consent decrees were reached with federal judges serving as monitors.

These agreements are not anti-police; they are pro-Constitution. We suspect that Sessions is motivated in no small part by President Donald Trump’s drive to halt the questioning of police actions such as those in which officers are captured on video shooting or fatally restraining unarmed civilians. The White House has posted a pledge that this “will be a law and order administration,” committed to ending the “dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America.”

 To read more click here. 

Border Patrol Agent Shoots Suspect at Las Cruces Checkpoint

police tapeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent shot a man accused of pointing a gun at agents at the Las Cruces Immigration Checkpoint on I-25 in New Mexico on Sunday.

CBP is investigating the shooting, which happened around 6:15 p.m., the Deming Headlight reports. 

The incident happened after the suspect was undergoing a secondary inspection. Authorities said the man, who has not yet been identified, brandished a handgun and then fired once in the direction of agents.

Agents returned fire, striking the suspect at least once.

The suspect was air lifted to a local hospital in an unknown condition.