Sep 15, 2019

Muslim American mayor says border agents wrongfully detained him

Mayor Mohamed Khairullah attending a documentary screening in Jersey City, New Jersey, May 3, 2017. Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images.

Mohamed Khairullah, the mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, told CNN that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents wrongfully detained him after he and his family got off a plane at JFK International Airport last month from a vacation in Turkey.

Why it matters: He said agents detained him for 3 hours and confiscated his phone for 12 days. While his family waited outside the interview room, they asked him if he met with any terrorists during his vacation.

What they're saying: Anthony Bucci, a public affairs officer with CBP, told CNN the agency could not speak about specific events because of the Privacy Act. However, he said CBP's "authority to engage in border searches is articulated in numerous statutes and has been repeatedly affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States."

  • Khairullah said an agent told him that he was randomly selected for questioning, but he said he doesn't believe it and has not ruled out legal action against CBP.
  • Ahmed Mohamed, director for New York's Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim American civil rights group, said he is representing Khairullah in what he described is "a clear case of profiling."

The big picture: If Khairullah sues the agency, he would be joining other advocates who are currently challenging CBP's authority in federal court.

  • The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 2017 filed a lawsuit challenging the Department of Homeland Security, the CBP and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's authority to seize and search people's electronic devices at the border without reasonable suspicion or a warrant.

Go deeper: Border Patrol agents complain about national backlash

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Border Patrol agents complain about national backlash

Border Patrol agent Carlos Ruiz spots undocumented immigrants in Penitas, Texas, September. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are suffering from a crisis in morale after facing severe national backlash as the once obscure law enforcement job moves into the spotlight of the immigration debate, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: Despite support from the White House and members of Congress and a decent middle-class wage, many agents have grown disillusioned with their jobs and the agency remains about 1,800 agents short of its hiring targets.

Go deeperArrowSep 15, 2019

Nearly 1 million migrants apprehended on southern border in FY 2019

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Trump administration apprehended a total of 1 million migrants at the southwest border of the U.S. in fiscal year 2019, Customs and Border Protection commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.

Why it matters: That figure is 88% higher than it was in 2018 and the highest total of any fiscal year since 2007. However, Morgan said those numbers have declined significantly in recent months — with September marking the lowest number of apprehensions for the year. He cited President Trump's June 7 deal with Mexico to stem the flow of migration as a factor in the steep drop.

Go deeper: Acting CBP head touts falling border numbers at rare press briefing

Cuccinelli asks for power to release info on refugees accused of crimes

Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli sent a memo to acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan earlier this month requesting the authority to publicize personal information about refugees and asylum seekers accused of crimes, Buzzfeed News' Hamed Aleaziz reports.

Why it matters: Only the DHS secretary currently has the power to release information about asylum seekers and refugees being prosecuted. Cuccinelli has become one of the loudest immigration hardliners in the administration, and as USCIS director, has already rolled out a series of regulations cracking down on immigrants and asylum seekers.

Go deeperArrowSep 18, 2019