Toiletries and clean clothes were in constant shortage and sick detainees were sometimes left in their soiled clothes, he told The Intercept. Detainees worked in the center’s kitchens for as little as $1 a day — or took cleaning shifts for no money but an extra ration of food. The food itself was so bad that it was sometimes infested with maggots, yet there was always too little of it — so that detainees would be forced to buy more at the center’s commissary. “It’s all about money,” said Hidalgo, who is now free on bond.Staff at Adelanto ignored all but the most serious medical emergencies. After Hidalgo witnessed a detainee suffer seizures and staff do nothing to help him, he started organizing a detainee-run response team to help those suffering medical and mental health crises, which were frequent. When he asked the center’s staff for help, those working with the GEO Group, the private detention company that runs the center, would refer him to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “If I asked ICE, they’d say, it’s GEO’s house, so ask them and go through them,” Hidalgo said. “Back and forth, so you end up getting nothing.”
HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY Kirstjen Nielsen made a series of secretive visits to South Texas immigrant detention centers on Friday. One of the facilities the secretary visited, in Los Fresnos, houses parents whose children were taken from them under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy. Many of the detainees there are women, and many desperately wanted to speak with Nielsen. Instead, they were moved to a distant soccer field, where they shouted to Nielsen for help but were too far away for her to hear them.
THE HIGHEST U.S. immigration administration authority ruled this week that cooking and cleaning for terrorists, even when done under threat of death, qualifies as providing material support and justification for deporting someone. The immigration court’s catch-all interpretation of material support aligns with how it has been used in federal criminal cases, where the law has allowed prosecutors to charge people for vague, often nonviolent offenses related to terrorism.
A bailiff pushed Jabar Ali Refaie’s wheelchair into a federal courtroom in Tampa, Florida, on September 20. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit and looking weak from not having had the drugs he takes to treat his multiple sclerosis, the 37-year-old Refaie was here for a bond hearing after being indicted on felony charges that allege he sold counterfeit BMW logos and diagnostic software on eBay.
Ex-Homeland Security boss University president says it’s all about safety
All the DHS wanted was a warrantless “peek” at the contents of a seized iPhone. The phone, one of three seized from a person suspected of drug trafficking, was examined by the DHS, with the warrant arriving a month later. Now, all of the evidence obtained from the phone is being tossed out.
In the order granting the suppression of evidence obtained from the phone, Judge Sterling Johnson points out that the government revised its story several times during oral testimony.
DHS Special Agent Thomas Wilburt worked with the CBP to detain the suspect, Adamou Djibo, at the JFK Airport. Djibo’s iPhone was taken and examined by Wilburt, who couldn’t seem to accurately recall the details of the examination.
For many years, major U.S. entertainment companies have been trying to gain the power to make websites disappear from the Internet at their say-so. The Internet blacklist bills SOPA and PIPA were part of that strategy, along with the Department of Homeland Security’s project of seizing websites that someone accused of copyright infringement. Hollywood’s quest for more censorship power was on display again today at a House of Representatives committee hearing that was supposed to be discussing reforms at ICANN, the nonprofit organization that oversees the Internet’s domain name system. Amidst a discussion of new top-level domain names (such as “.sucks”), a lawyer representing the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and other groups told the House Judiciary Committee’s Internet subcommittee that ICANN should force the companies that register domain names to suspend domains based on accusations of copyright infringement.
If this sounds familiar, that’s probably because it’s exactly the sort of system that the disastrous SOPA bill would have created—one where entire websites can be forced to go dark, without a day in court, because some material on the site is accused of infringing a copyright. We wrote about this strategy in March, when it appeared in the US Trade Representative’s “Notorious Markets List,” also at Hollywood’s request.
This new strategy to obtain censorship power is based on vague language in the agreements that ICANN made with the companies selling names in new top-level domains like .website, .ninja, and .biz. The agreements say that domain name registrars “shall take reasonable and prompt steps to investigate and respond appropriately to any reports of abuse.” The agreements don’t mention copyright, or require domain registrars to disable a domain without a court order. But that didn’t stop Steve Metalitz, the lawyer for a coalition that includes MPAA and RIAA, from arguing that “reports of abuse that are submitted to registrars by right-holders” should lead to “investigation” and “redress.” Of course, a registrar like Tucows or Namecheap has no control over the contents of websites—they simply register domain names. From a technical standpoint, the only “redress” a registrar can offer to a copyright holder such as a movie studio is to suspend a site’s domain name, making the entire site inaccessible to most visitors.
The government — via the DHS and CBP — has long insisted it should be able to search whatever, whenever, within X number of miles of the border for national security reasons. The DOJ has routinely argued on its behalf, delivering non sequiturs like “Not searching your laptop doesn’t protect your civil liberties” with a straight face.
The security/liberty tradeoff has routinely suffered from the government’s insistence that its Fourth Amendment-skirting efforts are in the public’s best interest, even if the public isn’t nearly as interested in seeing the drawers of their personal computing equipment emptied onto the floor every time they stray too close to the “Constitution-Free Zone.”
The courts have generally upheld the government’s arguments, with a few exceptions. The Eastern District of New York basically said that if you don’t want your stuff looked through for no reason, don’t put so much stuff in your stuff — especially sensitive stuff. The presiding judge, Edward Korman, went so far as to compare the US to countries with severe civil rights issues, like Syria and Lebanon, and declared the US the “winner,” seemingly because citizens enjoy more rights once they move further inland.
A controversial Transportation Security Administration program that uses “behavior indicators” to identify potential terrorists is instead primarily targeting undocumented immigrants, according to a document obtained by The Intercept and interviews with current and former government officials.
The $900 million program, Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT, employs behavior detection officers trained to identify passengers who exhibit behaviors that TSA believes could be linked to would-be terrorists. But in one five-week period at a major international airport in the United States in 2007, the year the program started, only about 4 percent of the passengers who were referred to secondary screening or law enforcement by behavior detection officers were arrested, and nearly 90 percent of those arrests were for being in the country illegally, according to a TSA document obtained by The Intercept.
Nothing in the SPOT records suggests that any of those arrested were associated with terrorist activity.
Those results aren’t surprising, according to those involved in the program, because the behavior checklist was, in part, modeled after immigration, border and drug interdiction programs. Drug smugglers and undocumented immigrants often exhibit clear signs of nervousness and confusion, or may be in possession of fraudulent documents.
“That’s why we started rounding up all the Mexicans,” said one former behavior detection officer.