Washington, D.C., May 1, 2019 — The Committee to Protect Journalists today joined more than 100 human rights and press freedom groups in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials expressing deep concern over recent actions by the department’s law enforcement agencies–Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement–that threaten the exercise of First Amendment rights, including freedom of the press.
In February, CPJ reported that several journalists were harassed or subjected to invasive questioning by Customs and Border Protection agents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Less than one month later, NBC San Diego reported that border agents had created dossiers of activists, lawyers, and journalists, and targeted them for heightened scrutiny because of their work providing services to migrants seeking asylum or reporting on the treatment and activities of asylum seekers at the border.
The joint letter references these reports and calls on the Department of Homeland Security to take steps to ensure that First Amendment activities are protected, and to provide greater transparency. It is addressed to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan and copies several Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, requesting an in-person meeting.
As part of an ongoing series of meetings with Customs and Border Protection Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs Andrew Meehan, CPJ was scheduled to meet with the border agency two days after the NBC San Diego report, but the agency canceled that meeting and has not responded to CPJ’s request to reschedule, as CPJ reported. You can read more about CPJ’s work on journalist safety at borders here.
Read the letter to the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security here.