Today, FUNDAMEDIOS joined a coalition of over 100 organizations in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) urging it to cease any targeting of activists, journalists and lawyers based on their First Amendment-protected speech and associational activities. The coalition demanded that DHS address alarming reports of surveillance activity by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that jeopardizes First Amendment rights and access to legal counsel, and may violate the Privacy Act of 1974.
As we point out in the letter, ICE documented and disseminated lists of «Anti-Trump» protests in New York City. In addition, CBP allegedly targeted and created dossiers on activists, lawyers and journalists working with and reporting on asylum seekers. First-hand accounts revealed a pattern of harassment including extended detentions and interrogations, electronic device searches at ports of entry, and denial of re-entry to Mexico.
FUNDAMEDIOS believes that type of surveillance imposed in the US Mexican border is a violation of freedom of expression and access to information especially when it targets journalists, covering the news in the border area, because it is them who facilitates the access to information of this region and the issue of immigration for the broad public. «In the case of journalist is also a violation of the right to privacy, to protect their material and especially their sources all of which is not acceptable in any democratic society», said Dagmar Thiel, Director of FUNDAMEDIOS USA.
The coalition demanded that DHS cease impermissible targeting, monitoring, and harassment of activists, journalists, and lawyers at the border, and disclose the policies, guidelines, and training materials that govern these activities.
We are pleased that Congress is actively investigating both incidents, and that the DHS Investigator General has been tasked with reviewing CBP’s conduct. We join their efforts to ensure that our government agencies are held accountable for their actions.