Archive for 'Crime'

‘Please, Please Stop’

Posted on May 19, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime, Immigration, International.

South Africans have killed at least 22 foreigners and terrorized many times more in the past week as a wave of xenophobia washes over the country. See photos here. Anger against immigrants is not new to South Africa, but the violence rarely reaches this level.

Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu condemned the attacks: “Please stop. Please stop the violence now. This is not how we behave. These are our sisters and brothers. Please, please stop,” he said, as quoted in the Cape Times.

The violence has been targeted at refugees and immigrants who fled Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Somalia and other African nations to find safety and jobs in their new home. But South Africa itself has been struggling with 40 percent unemployment and rampant crime. Marketplace reporter Gretchen Wilson has a powerful story on how the violence is tied to the country’s economic problems.

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Workplace Raid Nets Americans

Posted on April 25, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime, Immigration.

A group of U.S. citizens and greencard holders are pissed off after immigration agents - on a raid for undocumented workers - entered their job site, blocked the exits, didn’t let them use their cellphones and detained them for 45 minutes. A civil rights lawyer, Peter Schey, filed 114 federal claims for damages on their behalf yesterday.

The raid, which took place February 7 at Micro Solutions Enterprises in Van Nuys, California, led to the arrest of 138 undocumented immigrants.

Putting aside the immigration issue, and whether workplace raids are effective, humane or good public policy, the rights of the U.S. citizens and greencard holders caught up in the raids poses a fascinating debate. Should all citizens and permanent residents, if they have not committed a crime, be allowed to go to work, do their job and mind their own business free of nuisance? Do law-abiding citizens have a right to work in peace and quiet? A right to not have to provide identification, be harassed by federal agents or explain their immigration status? A right to not be searched or detained for no reason? Isn’t that the point of the fourth amendment?

Or is working in peace and quiet a privilege that ICE agents can take away if necessary? Maybe upholding immigration law is more important than the right to some privacy at the office.

Schey said the raid violated his clients’ fourth amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure and was therefore unconstitutional. Listen to a discussion with Schey on KPCC Patt Morrison today. (I intern for the show.)

Schey said 300 people were detained and kept in a state of fear and confusion. “People were told they could not use the bathroom. People were told they could not use their cellphones,” he said. “In essence, they were locked down until they were questioned by ICE agents regarding their status and their citizenship.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the search was fair because the agents had a warrant and followed all the rules. Steven Camarota, the director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, said there are plenty of circumstances in which people not accused of a crime are affected by law enforcement activities. For example, if an officer storms into your friend’s house during a drug bust, and you just happen to be over visiting, you can’t simply get up and leave. He said to Patt Morrison: “If you are in a home, if you are in a business, in which dozens of people all around you are violating the law, and they come in with a legitimate warrant signed by a judge, they are going to detain you. “

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LAX Can Search Your Laptop, No Reason Needed

Posted on April 22, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime.

A U.S. federal appeals court ruled yesterday that customs officers can search your laptop at the airport for absolutely no reason. No need for suspicious activity. You don’t even have to make a bomb joke (see below). Even if you look and act as innocent as a child, your laptop, cell phone and Blackberry are all fair game.

After a case involving a customs official finding porn on the laptop of a man from Orange County, California, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco decided that customs officers don’t need reasonable suspicion to search your personal and electronic belongings coming over border checkpoints.

Officers randomly searched Michael Arnold’s laptop at LAX on July 17, 2005, and found folders with child pornography. Arnold faces charges of possessing and transporting child porn and attempting to engage in illicit sexual conduct abroad with a minor, according to the ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that evidence is not needed to search at a border in order to protect the country’s “territorial integrity,” and airports count as borders. Therefore, the appeals court decided, a laptop is no different from a suitcase and can be searched at an international border.

If a police officer pulled over Arnold while driving, and Arnold looked and acted completely normal, the officer would have no right to search Arnold’s trunk. If the officer found child porn or drugs in the trunk, he would have a hard time using it as evidence against Arnold in court.

And yet, put Arnold in an airport, and all the rules change.

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Bomb Jokes at Airport Continued

Posted on April 22, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime.

A couple days after I wrote about the illegality of making a joke about a bomb at an airport, the Associated Press reported on a woman arrested at JFK airport for doing just that.

When the woman was not allowed to board, she allegedly asked a JetBlue flight attendant, “What if I had a bomb in my bag?” The woman, Rosalinda Baez, has been accused of falsely claiming there was a bomb in her suitcase.

Maybe if she had read my blog, she wouldn’t have gotten into so much trouble. Let this be a lesson.

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No Laughing Allowed

Posted on April 18, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime.

I have been dying to discuss this. Finally, I have my own blog! So…does anyone else think it’s a little strange/anti-American that we can’t make jokes at the airport? As you go through security in American airports (at least the ones I’ve been in - i.e. ones on either coast), there are big signs telling you it’s against the law to make jokes about bombs. Such jokes have led to travelers being charged with a felony disorderly conduct and falsely making a terrorist threat.

The rule wouldn’t be such a big deal, except that what else do you do when you’re passing through airport security besides make a bomb joke? I flew last night from Los Angeles to New York for Passover with the fam, and sure enough I was at LAX airport security and couldn’t resist - despite all the rules, I had to make a bomb joke. As we were going through security, my husband, Aung Moe, left his carry-on suitcase in the line unattended as we both stepped aside to get our boarding passes stamped. I came back to the line and found a man staring at the lonely suitcase, looking like he was contemplating alerting the troops. I grabbed the bag and said: “Don’t worry - no bomb.” We both smiled. “Ooops,” I continued. “No bomb jokes allowed.”

It’s shocking how often this happens to me. I suspect many people are in the same boat. When we have been bombarded (ignore the pun) with messages about terrorism at airports, to the point that it’s become part of our national psyche, you can’t (or at least I can’t) go through airport security without thinking about bombs.

It’s also hard not to find the security effectiveness laughable. I must take off my shoes and sweater as I pass through, but the pepper spray on my keychain has accidentally slipped through undetected countless times. Back when I was a smoker (approximately 28.5 days ago), the lighters and matches in the bottom of my purse passed through unnoticed on almost every trip. Yet my water bottle was seized.

When did our nation become so scared about a bomber in the airport that we decided to chuck the First Amendment? When did we get to the point where poking fun or using comedy was against the law? Or right, on September 11, 2001. (Though it’s not just us - people have been arrested for making bomb jokes at airports in Edinburgh, Manila, Devon and elsewhere.) It’s always been against the law to make a fake bomb threat, but did 9/11 make us willing to prioritize so-called security over everything else?

I was living in Denmark on 9/11. While I felt tremendous grief for the victims and their families, I did not experience the collective trauma like most Americans. From Copenhagen, I couldn’t understand why it was necessary to throw American Flags on every SUV and front porch in the country. And now, when I go through airports, as sick as this might be, I just want to make a cynical joke. Safety is obviously incredibly important, and the country should invest in better security. But as an American, I feel like the right to laugh and joke shouldn’t be sacrificed so easily. At least not without some discussion. What do you think?

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