Days before the Nov. 2018 midterm elections, President Trump cooked up pre-election hysteria over the so-called “caravan” of migrants a thousand miles away in southern Mexico, who were slowly making their way on foot towards the U.S. border. The president’s anti-immigrant chauvinism couldn’t stop his party from losing the House in a blue wave of Democratic victories, and afterward Trump largely dropped the issue until it became politically useful again months later during the government shutdown. The American government, however, sharpened its focus after the furor died down, according to a chilling report from NBC 7, NBC News’ local affiliate in San Diego. Documents leaked to NBC 7 show that the Trump administration went about gathering names of journalists, activists, and attorneys who had covered or worked with the fleeing migrants, and created a database that included dossiers on 57 people, including 10 journalists.
Those swept up in the government database where then targets for surveillance and harassment with at least 21 individuals subsequently questioned or arrested by Customs and Border Protection. The U.S. government, in some cases, placed alerts on the targeted individuals’ passports who were listed in the database titled: “San Diego Sector Foreign Operations Branch: Migrant Caravan FY-2019, Suspected Organizers, Coordinators, Instigators and Media.” The documents dated Jan. 9, 2019 included files on some 39 American citizens, including seven who were tracked by the U.S. government. The documents are part of an interagency “SharePoint” application accessible to a myriad of agencies, including agents from Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S.
Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, and the San Diego office of the FBI.
Some of the individuals who were there for the ultimate caravan standoff with border patrol suspected they were being targeted in the aftermath and the leaked documents showed the extent to which they were being singled out, including journalists being harassed at the U.S.-Mexican border, taken into secondary screening on the grounds it was a national security matter, and in one case denied entry to Mexico altogether. Here’s more on what was compiled from NBC 7:
For each person, the documents show their photo, often from their passport but in some cases from their social media accounts, along with their personal information. That information includes the person’s date of birth, their “country of commencement,” and their alleged role tied to the migrant caravan. The information also includes whether officials placed an alert on the person’s passport.
One dossier, shared with NBC 7, was on Nicole Ramos, the Refugee Director and attorney for Al Otro Lado, a law center for migrants and refugees in Tijuana, Mexico. The dossier included personal details on Ramos, including specific details about the car she drives, her mother’s name, and her work and travel history.