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U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are seen in Los Angeles, California, on January 28, 2017. Today, CBP canceled a meeting with CPJ and other press freedom groups. (Patrick T. Fallon/Reuters)

US border agency cancels meeting with press freedom groups

March 8, 2019 9:40 AM ET

Washington, D.C., March 8, 2019 -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today canceled a meeting with a coalition of press freedom groups--including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the ACOS Alliance--one day after it postponed the long-scheduled meeting and two days after NBC San Diego reported on internal government documents that suggest that CBP maintained a list of journalists and activists with knowledge of the 2018 migrant caravan and singled them out for additional screening.

In a statement to news organizations yesterday, CBP claimed that it "has specific provisions regarding encounters with journalists." This contrasts with what CPJ and its partners were told in previous meetings when requesting any such protocols, which was that the public affairs office was not aware of any special provisions.

"The cancellation by Customs and Border Protection of a meeting with press freedom groups amid mounting concerns over its inappropriate targeting and harassment of journalists covering migrants is part of a pattern of the agency refusing to address serious concerns over the treatment of the press at U.S. borders," said Alexandra Ellerbeck, CPJ's North America Program Coordinator. "It is time for Congress to step in and ensure that policies protecting journalists and the confidentiality of their sources are put in place."

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