Border patrol says no immigration changes at this time

By Mandi Johnson

Weekly editor

Immigration bans enacted by President Donald Trump have left islanders wondering if there will be an increase in border patrol presence at the ferry landings.

“There’s really no major changes at this time. Hawaii has succeeded in blocking the current executive order,” said U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent Melissa Sines, who is stationed in Blaine, Wash. “We are back to doing our job. We’re still adhering to the laws of the land, which have never changed. It’s just a matter of what administration is focusing on.”

The first round of concerns came in late January when President Trump signed an executive order suspending residents from seven countries from receiving visa status for at least 90 days, and indefinitely prohibiting refugee status for people fleeing war-torn Syria. The Jan. 27 order specified Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen as countries from which terrorists would originate. That executive order caused an immediate national backlash.

“The President’s executive order on immigration is un-American and unconstitutional. My team and I are working this weekend to explore our options to oppose this illegal action,” said Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a statement released on Jan. 28. “The rule of law applies to everyone — including President Trump — and I will use the authority of my office to hold him accountable to it.”

Two days later, Ferguson filed a lawsuit against Trump, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and high-ranking Trump Administration officials.

On March 6, Trump signed a second executive order on immigration, having removed the ban of Syrian refugees indefinitely and removing Iraq from the suspension. Three days later, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin had begun to pursue legal actions against Trump’s latest executive order.

San Juan County experienced an increase in border patrol at the ferries in 2008 when several people were brought in for alleged immigration violations. In response to that, San Juan County declared in 2014 that it would not be proactive in assisting ICE in the apprehension of suspected immigration violators. During its first meeting of 2017, San Juan County Council reaffirmed its stance on the topic.

“San Juan County will not break the law, but it is not our job to enforce immigration status. We will not hold people without a federal warrant,” Council Chairman Rick Hughes told the Sounder in February. “We support our entire community.”