Papers? You Has Zee Papers?

Today a Delta domestic flight from San Francisco to New York’s JFK airport was met by Customs & Border Patrol agents. Passengers were “requested” to show “their papers” (driver’s licenses, other forms of ID) in order to be allowed to exit the aircraft.

I am not a lawyer, but those who are and those who still have some clue of what being a journalist is all about, they’re all questioning the legality of such a move. The law seems to be pretty clear that CBP only has jurisdiction on international flights, but that didn’t stop anyone.

I’ve seen pictures that people took, and comments they made to the press and so on, but I haven’t heard of anyone actually refusing to show ID.

What would have happened if someone, perhaps someone who was actually a lawyer, had refused to show ID? What if they had refused until shown a legal warrant based on likely cause, and not one produced after the “troublemaker” was held illegally for several hours until such a warrant could be manufactured solely for the purpose of harassing said individual?

What would have happened if a whole plane full of troublemakers had said, “Fine, fuck you, either get out of our way or we’ll just stay on the plane.” And then every one of them started calling the ACLU and their own lawyers and started bringing lawsuits against CBP for unlawful detention and violation of their rights under the 4th Amendment?

Or maybe that one someone did protest and now someone’s wandering around JFK wondering where they went and why they’re not there to be picked up. If CBP decided to make an example of you for the “crime” of exercising your rights as a citizen and not taking their Gestapo bullshit, how long would it be before they even let you call a lawyer or a loved one to check in?

Drastic? Outrageous? Utter nonsense? Hysterical hyperbole?

Ask some of the people who were detained when Trump’s ill-conceived Muslim travel ban was put into place for two or three days a couple of weeks ago. Ask them how long they were kept isolated, without medication, without bathroom facilities, without a phone call, without legal counsel, without anything to eat or drink. And then some of them were illegally deported.

Ask them if it’s hysterical hyperbole.

It’s been just over a month since the fascists and white supremacists took over the White House and already it’s ordinary citizens, regular folks who just happened to be on the wrong plane at the wrong time, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, men, women, young, old, folks just like you and me, who are forced to decide to either give up their rights and submit in order to just get on with their day, or fight for their rights and be detained illegally for some unknown amount of time.

Hysterical hyperbole?

Read the last quote from the CBP in the Rolling Stone article.

Rolling Stone asked CBP to clarify whether the CBP document search was truly a “request” – or instead a legally binding demand by the agents. The spokesman again could not clarify CBP’s legal authority, warning only, “It is always best to cooperate with law enforcement, so as to expedite your exiting the airport in a timely manner.”

If we don’t stop it now, it’s going to be that much harder to stop it tomorrow.

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