Outrage grows over leaked government database targeting journalists, activists at US-Mexico border
29 March 2019
According to leaked documents provided to local San Diego news station NBC 7, a government database has been targeting journalists and activists at the southern US border. As news has spread of the operation many other groups and organizations have also spoken of increased surveillance and harassment by the Border Patrol, ICE, and other government agencies for covering immigration in Mexico.
The database was part of Operation Secure Line, the Trump administration’s military operation to block immigrants who were travelling in last year’s Central American caravan. Images of the 59 persons targeted were included along with personal information and descriptive tags like “journalist” and “organizer” along with a large green “X” over some of the faces.
These markers would indicate that an alert had been placed on the person’s passport and if they were stopped would be forced into secondary inspection. Many activists and journalists would be detained for hours or had their passports held in limbo without being offered a credible explanation by the border authorities.
While many have long suspected that the government was tracking their whereabouts at the southern border, the documents obtained by NBC 7 prove the Trump administration is expanding its war on immigrants to attack the democratic rights of the entire population.
ACLU staff attorney Esha Bhandari told the Guardian, “I have not seen this kind of systematic targeting of journalists and advocates in this way,” adding, “I think it is very troubling, very disturbing.”
Bhandari said, “It means that the debate about immigrants’ rights, about the treatment of…