According to a new report, U.S. government officials built a database to secretly track journalists and other individuals over their involvement with the huge migrant caravan that reached the U.S.-Mexico border last year.
What are the details?
KNSD-TV reported that it received leaked documents from an unnamed "Homeland Security source," which purportedly prove that the U.S. government was monitoring roughly 50 people linked to the incident.
The internal document, titled, "San Diego Sector Foreign Operations Branch: Migrant Caravan FY-2019, Suspected Organizers, Coordinators, Instigators and Media" was described by KNSD as a "target list." It contained photos of activists, attorneys, photographers and others, along with personal information about the individuals.
In some instances, the passports of involved parties were cited as being flagged. According to the outlet, at least a handful of the people tracked claim they were denied entry into Mexico after undergoing increased scrutiny by agents at the border.
The anonymous source also disclosed that the DHS built dossiers for each person on the list, saying, "We are a criminal investigation agency, we're not an intelligence agency. We can't create dossiers on people and they're creating dossiers. This is an abuse of the Border Search Authority."
The dossier for refugee attorney Nicole Ramos was shared with the outlet by the apparent DHS employee. Ramos responded in a statement: "The document appears to prove what we have assumed for some time, which is that we are on a law enforcement list designed to retaliate against human rights defenders who work with asylum-seekers and who are critical of CBP practices that violate the rights of asylum-seekers."
A staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union blasted the news, issuing a statement Wednesday saying, "This is an outrageous violation of the First Amendment. The government cannot use the pretext of the border to target activists critical of its policies, lawyers providing legal representation, or journalists simply doing their jobs. We are exploring all options in response."
How did the government respond?
Officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection say it's nothing new, just standard investigating protocol in response to the clashes between migrants and border patrol agents on Nov. 25 of last year.
In a statement to The Associated Press, the agency explained, "criminal events...involving assaults on law enforcement and a risk to public safety, are routinely monitored and investigated by authorities."