Racist Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agent in Montana Continues Collecting a Paycheck

by jhwygirl

When bigots and racists are allowed in the very institutions that implement law on the public individual, the whole legal system is called into question.

Makes me also wonder about what we don’t hear. This latest story from Great Falls Tribune Helena bureau reporter John S. Adams leaves me with the startling realization that the people employed at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency making decisions over who to investigate and prosecute for immigration violations can be bonafide bigots.

Last September, ICE officer Bruce Norum sent Helena immigration attorney Shahid Haque-Hausrath a long-circulated Islamophobic email titled “You worry me.” Shahid is a Muslim and a natural born citizen of the United States, raised by parents who immigrated from Pakistan. He is also a well-respected attorney who has been honored for his pro bono work assisting low-income Montanans.

Haque-Hausrath details the event, and subsequent suspension-pending-investigation of ICE officer Brude Norum on his blog. Go read it in his own words. He also links to the GFT John S. Adams news articles.

Last Monday, as Adams reports in today’s paper, Haque-Hausrath and his attorney met with ICE officials who told him that Bruce Norum would be reinstated in his same supervisory position. They offered nothing more than the explanation that it was a personnel matter.

While local ICE officials did not return calls, an ICE spokesperson out of Dallas said that they would look into it – but hadn’t responded to inquiries to that progress as of late Friday.

Haque-Hausrath isn’t pleased. Neither am I as I read this – Norum is the senior most ICE official here in Montana. He oversees immigration operations here in Montana and makes decisions on whether to arrest or investigate suspected undocumented aliens or to detain or deport individuals.

Apparently you can be a racist, work in ICE enforcing U.S. immigration law, and also openly espouse unconstitutional views.

Oh – and harass private individuals with hate-filled emails.

Montana sure isn’t a strange to these kind of brazen hate mongers – chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Richard Cebull sent out racist anti-Obama email last February, and defended it, saying that he simply didn’t like President Obama and that he didn’t send it because of the racists content (which he acknowledged.)

I’ll note that supermontanareporter John S. Adams broke that story, too.

Cebull eventually apologized but it took a few days. Multiple human rights entities petitioned for his resignation. Two ranking Democrats on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee have since called for a congressional hearing into Cebull’s email, and a judiciary panel has been investigating the matter since April.

Cebull is still sitting on the bench – we’ve yet to hear if the panel will find him in violation of the ethical standards befitting a judge. I’m sure that panel is just hoping it’ll all fade away. I doubt it. National attention has been thrust upon Cebull, with Mother Jones questioning his ethics, the Washington Post reporting on the investigation, and even the New York Times called for his resignation.

Montana has racists, sure it does – and it’s America with ’em in its courts and Department of Homeland Security.

  1. Pancho

    This is extremely disturbing.

    Both Cebull and Norum sent these racist, disgusting and bigoted e-mails from government accounts during working hours.

    Both of them are supervisors. They are responsible for supervising their subordinates go assure that they don’t use e-mails to send ANY personal e-mails to anyone. That they were doing this while they were being paid by Judicial and Executive branches during work hours makes it worse.

    Cebull doesn’t see himself as a racist. His e-mail suggested that Obama’s mother had sex with dogs, and that the President was not born to married parents. I expect that Norum doesn’t see himself as a racist either. They remind me of those “god-fearing” bigots in my youth who used to identify a minority of African-Americans by saying, “He’s one of the ‘good niggers’.”

    I used to be on the executive board of the union which was the largest in the state where I worked until I retired, 15 years ago. I warned my members in that position and as a shop steward that both of these behaviors were serious offenses that could initiate disciplinary process. Such employees represent the government in any communication they send.

    The prejudiced screed that Norum forwarded castigated a Muslim for complaining that he had been subjected to excessive security procedures three times. I called my Congressman a liar, in a campaign debate town hall, in 2002. He was most assuredly lying, over and over, to what he expected was a naive audience. He sent the police chief to talk with me and personally got my name and address. For the next two years, every time I flew, I was subjected to harassment. For perhaps 20 flights in a row, I got a beige notice from TSA that my baggage had been “randomly” searched.

    The campaign of the anointed successor of that congressman forwarded an attack on a friend of mine who was his opponent. It questioned his loyalty. He was a Hindu, born in Ohio. The e-mail referred to him as a “turban topper.” That forward as well commented that it too was “a good read.”

    By virtue of their positions of authority, people like Cebull and Norum have supported a police-state mentality, a “show me your papers” government. The worst and most ironica offenders, in my mind, are those Tea Party mouth breathers who endlessly holler “freedom!” at their rallies.

  2. Pete Talbot

    As far as the Cebull case, it’s progressing just as I suspected: delay, delay, delay. Panels and hearings and investigations — if any — that will take months, maybe years. By the time there are any findings, the furor will have died down and they’ll be some new misconduct incident involving a public official that will be grabbing the headlines.

    I never believed that Cebull would have to pay much of a price for his racist email.

  3. Steve W

    It’s amazing that they let such nasty, mean spirited, un-American people into positions of power.

    The police state is here and it’s populated by the same assholes who populated the last one.

    People have such short memories.

  4. I think the bigger problem is that our immigration policy is so convoluted and inhumane that many intelligent, compassionate people are turned off from working for it. It’s possible to be a compassionate ICE agent, but I imagine it’s a lot of emotional strain. Easier for someone like Mr. Norum, who seems to be able to limit his basic human decency to American citizens. If we want to keep racists out of positions of power in ICE, we need to make our immigration laws more humane.

    • Steve W

      The law as written had zero to do with either the judge or the ICE employee using government resources to spew racist opinions.

      However, I agree that the laws aren’t optimum, to say the least.

      • “The law as written had zero to do with either the judge or the ICE employee using government resources to spew racist opinions. ”

        That’s true, to an extent. Like I said, I’m sure you can be a humane and compassionate ICE agent, but ultimately the laws you are charged with enforcing are inhumane in a lot of ways.

        Perhaps a single ICE agent using government resources to spew racism had nothing to do with the laws as written, but the fact that he can spew them, be called on it, and then be re-instated, suggests a problem deeper in the institution. Which is no surprise, because the institution is based on the assumption that some human beings are inherently more deserving than others.

    • lizard19

      and it doesn’t help when our junior senator misrepresents the Dream Act as amnesty and helps kill it.

      but I’m sure that vote polled well with the xenophobes in this state, which is good politics if your only goal is reelection.

      • Amnesty, noun. Law: an act of forgiveness for past offenses, especially to a class of persons as a whole. ”

        The DREAM act was absolutely amnesty. That’s not a misrepresentation at all. Now, it was an amnesty you and I and others supported. But it was an amnesty nonetheless – it gave legal forgiveness to a specific class of persons who had broken the law – the fact that the lawbreakers are benefiting the country and the law is misguided are not important to the definition of an amnesty.

    • I don’t know – your view seems a big sanguine. I believe he broke the law when he harassed Mr. Haque–Hausrath. That’s aside from the context of his employment.

      It’s a little more than him being limited in “his basic human decency to American citizens,” imo.

  5. RHG

    Bruce Norum is a real sweetheart. He was (is?) involved in a crusade against sex education in Montana public schools — even going so far as to demand, as per FOI (Freedom of Information), the draft materials of the curriculum which were still under review and had not been implemented. The sordid tale is here:

    Click to access jus54a05.pdf

    Since Norum seems so keen to exert his rights to obtain FOI documentation, perhaps some vigilant citizen should file an FOI request for the documentation on his own e-hate campaign.

    @SteveW — you’re absolutely right; given the state of the laws and the collective ethos that prevails among its members, only a crypto-fascist can serve the ICE with a “clean” conscience.

  6. These racist acts have been going on within ICE for decades. I am a retired ICE Agent/ New Author that has written a book on the insides of ICE and much more. Please visit my website at (taintedice444.com)

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