Furor over interrogations of journalists at U.S./Mexican border

Federal border authorities have been keeping dossiers on journalists covering the migrant caravan in Mexico. Journalists crossing back into the U.S. have been stopped and searched, and some have been detained and questioned extensively about their sources, funding, personal lives and observations of Tijuana shelters for migrants. (Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2019, by Kristina Davis of the San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, March 7, 2019, plans to challenge the practice of tracking journalists at the border. “Our free press must be able to travel freely to witness firsthand what’s happening at our borders and bring that news to the public,” said Gabe Rottman of the Reporters Committee.  “To target members of the media in this way, which both threatens the press and public’s constitutional rights and attempts to use journalists as an investigative arm of the government by questioning them about their work at the border, is wholly inappropriate.”

With news of the dossiers, the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security is investigating whether the border officials violated administration policies. Congressional Democrats are condemning the practice as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection defended their actions saying it was needed after attacks on Border Patrol Agents in November and January and that it was standard investigatory practice to gather the information. (BuzzFeed News, March 7, 2019, by Nidhi Prakash, Julia Reinstein and Salvador Hernanadez)