During the 2016 presidential race, then-candidate Donald Trump promised America’s xenophobes that he would create a “Deportation Force” if they elected him. The right went wild; for years they’d been dreaming of a president who would rip families apart and deport throngs of undocumented immigrants who have been living in the country — especially the brown ones. So when November rolled around they elected the man who said he’d make all of their dreams comes true and now it looks like they are getting exactly what he promised.
This week, Twitter exploded in anger after it was revealed that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents forced travelers disembarking a domestic flight to show their identification. According to passenger Kelley Amadei, travelers on Delta flight 1583 (from San Francisco to New York) were told to have their identification ready while the plane was taxiing down the runway. The passengers were met by two agents before they even stepped onto the jet bridge:
These are customs agents forcibly checking the ID of every passenger deplaning from Delta flight 1583 tonight at JFK. A domestic flight. pic.twitter.com/fHMgyzCjo5
— Britton Taylor (@brittontaylor) February 23, 2017
On Thursday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed that the incident had occurred but gave a baffling reason for it: they were looking for an undocumented immigrant they thought might be on the plane. The Washington Post reported:
The search was conducted at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, CBP said in a statement, but the person they were seeking was not on the flight. A CBP spokesperson said that the individual, who they did not publicly identify, had legal immigration documents but received a deportation order after multiple criminal convictions for domestic assault, driving while impaired, and violating a protective order.
The explanation doesn’t seem to gel with the accounts of people on the flight either, Amadei told New York 4 News that the agents didn’t seem to be looking for any particular person:
“It didn’t feel normal. I’ve been on a million domestic flights, I didn’t ever have that experience,” she said. “He studied my ID, for sure. I was checking because I was thinking maybe they were looking for someone in particular, but they didn’t have a manifest in their hands that I could see so they were just checking IDs.”
What’s even more unnerving is that when Amadei questioned one of the agents, he snapped at her:
“He said, ‘It’s not for you to to worry about, we do it from time to time,'” she recounted. “I said, ‘I’ve been on a thousand flights, I used to travel three weeks out of the month. I never had it happen on a domestic flight and I’ve never had it happen on an international flight.’ He just looked at me and said ‘leave it alone.'”
This is all very disturbing. CBP’s explanation doesn’t doesn’t make any sense. If they were actually looking for a specific person, why would they have to ask every person on the flight for identification? Are we seriously expected to believe that they did not have a description of the suspect? And why wouldn’t the agents have checked the passenger manifest to see if the suspect had boarded the flight? There is absolutely no reason every person leaving that flight should have had to show their IDs.
In light of this recent incident many of us are left wondering if this is going to be the new normal. Is Trump’s promised deportation force going to actually rip people off of planes? It is a terrifying thought for people like me who have an undocumented spouse. Trump is creating an environment where we can’t even travel without worry that our family is going to be ripped apart. Does that sound like freedom to you? Is it making America “great?”
We all need to stand up and fight back against this shameful, un-American administration before it destroys everything that we love about our country.