According to reports, the United States government is tracking and investigating journalists and immigration advocates believed to have supported or documented the situations of asylum-seekers and migrants at the US-Mexico border. Leaked documents reveal a list including US citizens, organizers mostly based in the US and Latin America, and journalists who covered the recent caravans of migrants and asylum-seekers from Latin America.
Amnesty International has interviewed some of the people on this list who were targeted for investigation, including through additional screenings at the border.
Ashley Houghton, tactical campaigns manager at Amnesty International USA, issued this statement:
“Our worst suspicions about the administration’s attempts to interfere with human rights defenders could be confirmed. Monitoring journalists and immigration advocates is outrageous—and if based on their political opinions or legitimate human rights-related activities, as we suspect, it is unlawful.
“Lawyers and immigration advocates on the ground at the US border provide life-saving services to help ordinary people navigate a complex and unfamiliar legal process. We must stand up for people who speak out against injustice just as they stand up for the rights of others.
“It is equally appalling to witness this attempt to stop journalists from covering stories at the border. The horrific violations of human rights occurring at the US-Mexico border should not be hidden from the eyes of the world. Journalists must be free to report on the facts without fear of consequences.”
In January 2019, Amnesty International joined with legal services organization Al Otro Lado to accompany a group of three Honduran LGBT children as they approached the San Ysidro port of entry to ask for asylum. One of their lawyers, Nicole Ramos, is identified on the list of people being tracked.
Amnesty International USA calls on Congress to immediately exercise oversight of the administration’s attempts to crack down on advocates and reporters who attempt to shine a light on the situation of asylum-seekers at the US-Mexico border.