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Immigration Law

CBP May Have Violated Court Orders While Enforcing Travel Ban

Alan Gomez, USA Today, Jan. 19, 2018 - "Customs and Border Protection agents were "caught by surprise" by President Trump's original travel ban against majority-Muslim nations and may have violated two separate court orders while implementing it, a government report released Friday concluded.

A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General report chronicled the "chaotic" days that followed after Trump signed the travel ban into effect during a ceremony at the Pentagon last Jan. 27.

... [T]he report found that at least 30 people trying to enter the U.S. via land borders and U.S.-bound flights were improperly prevented from entering the U.S., possibly violating a ruling issued by U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn. Donnelly prevented border agents from enforcing the travel ban, but the report found that several border agents stationed at foreign airports disregarded her ruling.

"The fact that (Customs and Border Protection) nonetheless felt itself free to deny boarding overseas seems to be a highly aggressive stance in light of the court's concerns," the report found.

A separate court ruling out of Massachusetts led to a surprising confrontation between U.S. border agents and an international airline.

Two federal judges in Boston issued a ruling forcing Customs and Border Protection to allow all travelers to continue flying into Logan International Airport. After the ruling was issued, the report found that border agents stationed at overseas airports "circumvented" the order and issued "no-board" instructions against 20 Boston-bound travelers.

"But Lufthansa had other ideas," the report read.

A U.S. border official hand-delivered "no-board" orders barring several passengers to Lufthansa agents at a departure gate at Frankfurt Airport in Germany as the flight was preparing to depart. But Lufthansa officials had already consulted with its legal team and ignored the "no-board" orders. 

The passengers were allowed to fly, and Customs and Border Protection officials decided to grant them waivers to enter the country.

The report concluded by saying that border agents "generally conducted themselves professionally" while scrambling to respond to the court order. But in several cases, the agency interpreted judicial rulings in way that violated "the overall spirit" of the orders."