One lawyer was worried that she was being targeted by the government. She was right.
By Fernanda Echavarri
Mother Jones (3/7/20)
One lawyer was worried that she was being targeted by the government. She was right. When I visited Nicole Ramos, an American immigration lawyer, at the Tijuana offices of the legal aid group Al Otro Lado last week, she told me she was worried she was being targeted by the US government for special monitoring. She’s a director of the organization, which assists asylum-seekers and other migrants, and her two co-directors had already been denied entry into Mexico because of “migratory alerts” placed on their passports. Ramos didn’t know whether there was an alert on her passport and said she was afraid to leave Mexico because she might not be allowed to return. She suspected there might be a watchlist for people doing migrant aid work.
Now we know that there is. And not only is there a watchlist: The US government has created a detailed dossier on Ramos and 55 other people working on immigration issues.
Leaked documents obtained by a San Diego NBC affiliate show that government officials have been gathering intelligence on journalists, activists, and lawyers in a secret database.
Most of the 56 people on the watchlist are US citizens whose work has been connected to the caravan of Central American migrants that arrived in Tijuana last fall. The database includes each person’s name, date of birth, and nationality. It says whether there was an alert placed on the person’s passport and lists each person’s “role” as media, instigator, or organizer.
In Ramos’ case, the dossier contains an unsettling level of detail, including her vehicle’s make and model, her personal email address, her mother’s name, and her travel history. It does not, however, list her as having an alert on her passport—although the leaked version of the list is from January 9, so that might have changed.
Ramos told me last week before the existence of the watchlist was confirmed that she’d faced increasing harassment by US government officials. She recounted the numerous times immigration officials had scrutinized her at the border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego and said her trusted-traveler SENTRI pass had been revoked.
Ramos, a US citizen, said this type of harassment had increased significantly since Donald Trump became president. The intimidation reached a new level in late January, when the two other co-directors of Al Otro Lado were denied entry to Mexico from the United States. …
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2019. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link toe www.thecommonercall.org )
US Government Tracking & Detaining Journalists & Activists
The Young Turks (3/7/19)
“Documents obtained by NBC 7 Investigates show the U.S. government created a secret database of activists, journalists, and social media influencers tied to the migrant caravan and in some cases, placed alerts on their passports.
At the end of 2018, roughly 5,000 immigrants from Central America made their way north through Mexico to the United States southern border. The story made international headlines.
As the migrant caravan reached the San Ysidro Port of Entry in south San Diego County, so did journalists, attorneys, and advocates who were there to work and witness the events unfolding.
But in the months that followed, journalists who covered the caravan, as well as those who offered assistance to caravan members, said they felt they had become targets of intense inspections and scrutiny by border officials.”