Leaked documents reveal that the United States government, in partnership with the Mexican Government, is tracking journalists, influencers, and attorneys in a secret database that pertains to immigration.
The database, according to Customs and Border Protection, houses information that they may need for a future legal investigation;
“It is protocol following these incidents to collect evidence that might be needed for future legal actions and to determine if the event was orchestrated,” the statement read. “CBP and our law enforcement partners evaluate these incidents, follow all leads garnered from information collected, conduct interviews and investigations, in preparation for, and often to prevent future incidents that could cause further harm to the public, our agents, and our economy.”
Photographs of the database were leaked to NBC 7 by Homeland Security personnel and within the database are roughly 50 persons whom all attended the Migrant Caravan occurrence in late 2018.
The source told NBC 7 that the documents or screenshots show a SharePoint application that was used by agents from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations and some agents from the San Diego sector of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
In response to the revelation of the secret database, journalists stated that they had become targets of intense inspections and scrutiny by border officials.
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According to NBC 7; “One photojournalist said she was pulled into secondary inspections three times and asked questions about who she saw and photographed in Tijuana shelters. Another photojournalist said she spent 13 hours detained by Mexican authorities when she tried to cross the border into Mexico City. Eventually, she was denied entry into Mexico and sent back to the U.S.”
However, according to the source and NBC 7 the intelligence gathering efforts were conducted under the umbrella of “Operation Secure Line,” which was initiated to monitor the migrant caravan.
The individuals listed in the database include ten journalists, seven of whom are U.S. citizens, a U.S. attorney, and 47 people from the U.S. and other countries, labeled as organizers, instigators or their roles “unknown.” The target list includes advocates from organizations like Border Angels and Pueblo Sin Fronteras.