Whistleblower exposes secret government database tracking journalists and immigrant rights advocates
The federal government has been tracking a number of journalists, organizers, and immigrant rights advocates who covered or had associations with the so-called migrant caravan last year in a secret database, a whistleblower has revealed to San Diego station NBC 7. “These American photojournalists and attorneys said they suspected the U.S. government was monitoring them closely,” the report said, “but until now, they couldn’t prove it.”
Documents show dozens of people, listed by name, occupation, and organization, “who officials think should be targeted for screening at the border,” the report said. Some are listed as “suspected organizers,” others as “instigators.” Seven of the 47 are U.S. citizens. For some, the level of detail in the database was frightening.
Information on Nicole Ramos, an attorney with immigrant rights advocacy group Al Otro Lado, included “specific details about the car she drives, her mother’s name, and her work and travel history.” Al Otro Lado had already been targeted in January, when two co-directors were barred from entering Mexico. “They both returned to the United States and still haven’t been told which government placed the alert on their passports.”
“The document appears to prove what we have assumed for some time,” Ramos told NBC 7, “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.”
This is in no way isolated. The Nation recently reported that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) mass deportation agency has also tracked critics of Donald Trump and his administration’s anti-immigrant policies. ICE even reportedly tracked an anti-white supremacy rally led by New York Congressman Adriano Espaillat. This is nothing new: Just weeks into Trump’s administration, unshackled ICE agents stalked a Dreamer who had spoken out against mass deportation.
This is the thuggery of Trumpism on full display. “This is disturbing,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Joaquin Castro tweeted, “and we must get answers as to who exactly was on this list, why it was used, and under what circumstances. Such assault on free press and democracy is something we expect in dictatorships—not the United States of America.”