Sidebar: New Government Backlash
All this talk of protest feels empowering. Still, we must take care not to get trapped by the authoritarian state apparatus that is assembling. For example, customs agents now routinely detain international travelers with Arabic-sounding names, including Muhammad Ali Jr. When he flew into a Florida airport from Jamaica in February, “officials held and questioned him for nearly two hours, repeatedly asking him, ‘Where did you get your name from?’ and ‘Are you Muslim?’” (“Muhammad Ali Jr. Detained by Immigration Officials at Fla. Airport,” Danielle Lerner, The [Louisville] Courier-Journal, appearing in USA Today, Feb. 25, 2017; usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/02/24/muhammad-ali-jr-detained-immigration-officials-fla-airport/98379082). Indeed, immigration authorities have even stopped travelers on domestic flights (Tim Dickinson, “Border Patrol Agents Stop Domestic Travelers at New York Airport,” Rolling Stone, Feb. 23, 2017; rollingstone.com/politics/news/border-patrol-agents-stop-domestic-travelers-at-new-york-airport-w468643).
Customs officials have been demanding access to the cellphones of international travelers; that is legal under the “border search exception” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_search_exception). Therefore, it is wise to delete any sensitive material from your phone before you travel. Or, simply buy a new phone for your trip.
Protesters are also advised to take precautions. Authorities can intervene if a gathering grows violent or causes serious disruption. Undocumented immigrants may become vulnerable to deportation if they attend public events. Also, several states have passed laws that restrict the rights of protestors.
In other words, be careful out there.