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Only one or two days into the new Trump administration, there are already some very disturbing indications that the new president's campaign promise to conduct "extreme vetting" of immigrants seeking to enter the US on the basis of their overall ideology and adherence to "American values" not just security concerns, may already be moving America in the direction of thought control and one-man rule over American citizens as well.
The Guardian reports that on January 19 (the day before Trump's inauguration) as a reported 3 million Americans were getting ready to exercise the free speech rights on which this country was founded and which are the essence of America, by taking part in women's marches demonstrating against our new president in US cities coast to coast on January 21, a group of 8 foreign citizens, six Canadians and two French nationals, was prevented from entering the US from Canada by the US Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) at a crossing near Champlain, New York, for refusing to support Donald Trump.
The following is from The Guardian's story:
"The group was up front with border agents, Dyck [one of the group members] said. 'We said we were going to the women's march on Saturday and they said: "Well, you're going to have to pull over."'
What followed was a two-hour ordeal. Their cars were searched and their mobile phones examined. Each member of the group was fingerprinted and had their photo taken.
Border agents first told the two French citizens that they had been denied entry to the US and informed them that any future visit to the US would now require a visa.
'Then, for the rest of us, they said, "You're headed home today,' Dyck said. The group was then warned that if they tried to cross the border again during the weekend, they would be arrested."
No, the above news story is not about people seeking to enter Vladimir Putin's Russia or Kim Jong Un's North Korea. It is about people coming to the United States of America in order to engage in free speech that is protected by the US constitution.
But these eight foreign citizens were not the only ones turned away at that same crossing that day. The Guardian continues with a report about two foreign citizens, one from the UK and one from Canada who were seeking US entry to join the demonstrations:
"After being questioned, fingerprinted and photographed Kroese [the UK citizen] and his Canadian companion were refused entry because they were planning to attend what the border agent called a 'potentially violent rally'. he said. The pair was advised not to travel to the United States for a few months, and Kroese was told he would now need a visa to enter the US."
And this is not all. The same story relates the experience of Joseph Decunha, another Canadian who tried to enter the US to join the women's march against the new president, along with two American friends:
"The group was brought in for secondary questioning, where the border agent asked about their political views. Decunha told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: 'The first thing he asked us point blank is, "Are you anti- or pro-Trump?"'
The two Americans were allowed to enter, but the Canadian was turned back.
"ARE YOU ANTI- OR PRO-TRUMP?"
Will this be the new test for foreign citizens seeking to enter the United States from now on?
Yes, of course, America is a sovereign nation. If Congress wants to pass a law (or the president wants to issue an INA 212(f) decree, as he has the right to do) saying that only foreign citizens who hold their right arms straight up, click their heels and pledge undying personal loyalty to our new president can be allowed into the United States, there is nothing in our laws or constitution that would give a non-US citizen the right to challenge this.
The Supreme Court has consistently reiterated this point in a long line of cases beginning with the Chinese exclusion law cases in the late 19th Century, as reaffirmed in Kleindienst v. Mandel (1972), about which I have written previously in some detail.
But if the United States adopts rules for foreign citizens coming into this country which are more consistent with an authoritarian society than the democratic standards which the founders of this country intended for America, how long will we, the American people, be able to maintain our own free speech rights?
A chilling answer to this can be found in the charges filed against demonstrators who were actually arrested during the women's march. alternet.org (not to be confused with the Alt-Right!) reports about the unusually severe felony charges, carrying up to 10 years in prison, that were filed against demonstrators who were arrested, and the abuses they received at the hands of the police.
It is easy to make excuses for Trump. Yes, foreign citizens do not have a constitutional right of their own to come to the United States. Yes, violence of any kind at rallies, whether for or against Trump (and there have been both kinds) is impermissible.
But the signs that repressing the freedom of speech (or religion) of foreign citizens who want to come to America go hand in hand with doing the same to the rights of American citizens are unmistakable.
If we turn the other way in the face of abuses against the basic human rights of immigrants or foreign visitors, we should not be surprised if the freedoms we take for granted as Americans soon begin to disappear as well.
Attorney at Law
Updated 01-23-2017 at 12:53 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs