The U.S. Senate voted 79-19 to proceed on the nomination of Kevin McAleenan to lead Customs and Border Protection (CBP), setting up a final vote for next week. Under McAleenan’s watch as acting commissioner of the agency, Border Patrol agents allegedly violated an Obama-era agreement in order to raid a life-saving medical camp along the U.S./Mexico border, detained a 10-year-old disabled child and inhumanely separated hundreds of desperate parents and children seeking asylum.
“During his time as Acting Commissioner of CBP, Kevin McAleenan proved that he is another of President Trump’s puppets, who will stop at nothing to harm immigrants,” said immigrant rights leader and America’s Voice founder Frank Sharry. “Mr. McAleenan has aggressively prosecuted President Trump’s assault on immigrants and asylum-seekers. A vote against McAleenan is a vote in favor of American values and families.”
McAleenan has helped oversee the building of Trump’s stupid baby walls, but it’s the human rights violations that are an absolute worry. According to Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), “CBP has the highest number of corrupt agents when compared with all other federal law enforcement agencies. Agents and officers have raped, beaten and killed immigrants and citizens alike. They have committed forgery and theft, smuggled people and narcotics, and taken bribes, undermining the trust given to them to carry a gun and a badge.”
McAleenan’s jurisdiction would be massive—200 million Americans, two-third of us, live in the 100-mile zone where Border Patrol can ask for your papers. Recent footage has shown agents boarding Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses in New York and Florida to harass passengers. But during Wednesday’s vote, only 18 Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, voted against invoking cloture on McAleenan’s nomination. This is a dangerous pick, and the Senate could be poised to keep him in this position permanently.
Earlier this year, two humanitarian groups released footage exposing Border Patrol agents routinely destroying jugs of water left for dying migrants in the desert. In one video, an agent smiles at the camera as he pours out the water, saying “make sure you get a nice shot.” After the report’s release, numerous volunteers with one of the groups, No More Deaths, were arrested on federal misdemeanor charges, and one volunteer, Scott Daniel Warren, on federal charges.