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U.S. government’s effort targeting journalists reporting at the U.S.-Mexico border threatens First Amendment rights

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On Wednesday, NBC San Diego and other outlets reported that U.S. government agencies have created a list to track journalists covering immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as attorneys, activists and others who have done work at the border. The list includes 10 journalists, some of whom have reported having alerts placed on their passports for secondary screening, being detained and questioned about their work by border agents when trying to cross the border, and not being allowed to enter Mexico.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, along with the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, plans to meet with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to express concerns about this practice.

“If our First Amendment means anything, it’s that the government cannot retaliate against journalists based on the content of their reporting,” said Gabe Rottman, director of the Reporters Committee’s Technology and Press Freedom Project. “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. 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.”

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