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Wyden, Grassley Demand Answers on CBP List Targeting Journalists
“It is deeply concerning that CBP appears to be targeting American journalists at our borders.”
Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, today requested answers about U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) Agents reportedly targeting journalists for searches, in a letter to Customs Commissioner Kevin McAleenan.
Media reports indicate that CBP placed at least seven American journalists covering U.S.-Mexico immigration issues on a list for additional scrutiny while crossing the border. In a bipartisan letter, Wyden and Grassley requested a briefing on the list and related policies by March 14.
“First Amendment freedoms guarantee American citizens the right to a free press and peaceable assembly,” Wyden and Grassley wrote in the letter to McAleenan. “Unless CBP had reason to believe the individuals in question were inciting violence or physical conflict, it is deeply concerning that CBP appears to be targeting American journalists at our borders.”
Read the full letter here and below.
Dear Commissioner McAleenan:
We write to you today regarding recent reports alleging that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inappropriately flagged for additional scrutiny seven American journalists, who were covering the migrant caravan last year. First Amendment freedoms guarantee American citizens the right to a free press and peaceable assembly. Unless CBP had reason to believe the individuals in question were inciting violence or physical conflict, it is deeply concerning that CBP appears to be targeting American journalists at our borders.
According to recent news reports, a whistleblower provided a local NBC affiliate with documentation evidence title “San Diego Sector Foreign Operations Branch: Migrant Caravan FY-2019, Suspected Organizers, Coordinators, Instigators and Media” dated January 9, 2019. The documents provided by this whistleblower, which are not classified, are labeled “For Official Use Only.” According to these reports, the documents indicate that CBP was being directed to target journalists for extra scrutiny at the border.
We understand and appreciate that CBP officers put their lives on the line to secure our homeland, and to protect the flow of people and commerce across our borders. However, CBP must perform its duties in a manner that is consistent with basic Constitutional safeguards.
Therefore, in our capacity as Chair and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, with oversight jurisdiction over the CBP, we are requesting that CBP provide our staff with an unclassified briefing on this document and its policies and procedures related to such targeting, with classified additions as necessary, as soon as possible, and no later than March 14, 2019.
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