Mexican Government Pitched In To Help The CBP Spy On Journalists, Activists, And Lawyers

from the odd-coupling dept

The CBP has an unlikely partner in its surveillance of journalists, activists, and lawyers: the Mexican government. It's not going to pay for The Wall™, but it's apparently willing to help out in other ways.

A government review of how journalists, attorneys, immigration advocates, and activists were monitored and tracked by U.S. border agencies confirms the Mexican government had a major role in the controversial tracking program.

In a letter dated May 9, 2019, Randy Howe, Executive Director of Field Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) notes that “...CBP partnered with the Government of Mexico [to] address developing threats…” posed by the Central American Migrant caravan.

“A number of journalists and photographers were identified by Mexican Federal Police as possibly assisting migrants in crossing the border illegally and/or as having some level of participation in the violent incursion events,” CBP’s letter states.

Mexican government officials originally stated the government was not involved in this controversial surveillance. These assertions have been undercut by a statement written in response to a letter from a coalition of press outfits and rights groups demanding to know why the CBP and DHS were adding First Amendment violations to their long list of Fourth and Fifth Amendment violations.

Here's the Mexican government's original statement, which has suddenly aged very badly.

“The government of Mexico disapproves of all acts of illegal espionage against any person, domestic or foreign. The Mexican government does not conduct illegal surveillance on anyone, for any type or category of activity,” a statement read.

I guess it all depends on how you define "illegal." Or "surveillance." Maybe the federal police limited themselves to adding people to the CBP's watchlist. Perhaps this sort of surveillance isn't illegal in Mexico. But it's definitely on the illegal side here in the United States. If it's not a legal issue on the other side of the border, then the CBP and DHS are basically using a foreign government to engage in surveillance they're not allowed to perform on this side of the fence.

It doesn't appear the CBP and DHS are all that concerned about the possible Constitutional violations they're engaged in themselves. The letter the CVP sent says the agency was only trying to round up people trying to assist migrants in crossing the border illegally, which somehow included journalists covering the border caravans and immigration lawyers trying to help people through the asylum process.

The CBP does admit it will periodically violate Constitutional rights, but it claims these violations are only minor speed bumps on the road of American life.

Occasionally, CBP may inconvenience law-abiding persons in our effort to detect, deter, and mitigate threats to our homeland.

Well, I'm glad that's all cleared up. The CBP does not engage in illegal surveillance (except when it does) and does not target protected First Amendment activities (except those occurring near the border) and only in the interest of national security does it ignore rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. And it's doing all this with a foreign government's help -- a government that denied it had anything to do with this surveillance when first asked about its involvement.

Filed Under: activists, cbp, journalists, mexico, spying, surveillance


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 3:33am

    Smooth hand over of power

    On the Mexican side you are spied on by the Mexican government, and when you cross the border you are spied on by the USA government.

    All logical and consistent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 6:21am

      Re: Smooth hand over of power

      Very optimistic point of view, as you are spied upon all the time by everyone no matter where you go.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 3:40am

    I'm confused, does this mean the CBP will inconvience themselves as well?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 29 May 2019 @ 4:15am

      Re:

      Aiming for funniest of the week are we?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 4:49am

        Re: Re:

        That wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

        However allegedly every time you laugh you increase your lifespan by 7 seconds (Meh probably not exactly true, but I'm pretty sure laughing is good for your health).

        Therefore in the (unlikely) event it did get vote funniest of the week, it'd mean that I added (by a tiny amount) to many people's happiness and lifespan.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 29 May 2019 @ 4:15am

    In the same way assault is 'a minor annoyance', sure

    Occasionally, CBP may inconvenience law-abiding persons in our effort to detect, deter, and mitigate threats to our homeland.

    What a downright charming way to describe and deliberately downplay constitutional violations and/or surveillance of people engaging in perfectly legal activities. 'We didn't engage in unconstitutional acts targeting people who were engaged in perfectly legal activity, we just 'inconvenienced' them.'

    Somehow I can't help but suspect that they consider those pesky 'constitutional protections' to be likewise just 'inconveniences', and brush them aside just as quickly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 6:04am

      Re: In the same way assault is 'a minor annoyance', sure

      Almost as if their violations of the constitution invalidate their own existence as an agency, just like the NSA.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 6:10am

    and the US is the best country in the world to live? yeah, right!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 7:22am

    Journalism should be outlawed.

    Government knows best and can tell people what they need to know.

    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Hero, 29 May 2019 @ 8:51am

    At least we now have a solid definition of what a "journalist" is in the United States:
    noun; someone being spied on by the US government.

    Now we just need to apply this to the Assange case and we can clearly see that Assange fits the definition of a "journalist".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 9:09am

      Re:

      "journalist": "someone being spied on by the US government."

      This supports the position that everyone is a journalist.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Hero, 29 May 2019 @ 9:56am

        Re: Re:

        That is correct! Journalists (however you define them) are not mentioned in the bill of rights.

        The First Amendment recognizes that humans have a right to publish and congress can not abridge that right. Maybe the act of mishandling classified information is illegal, but as far as I can tell, publishing the material is not.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 29 May 2019 @ 11:00am

    HOw to make nice..

    FIRSt get upset, and piss everyone off,
    Then give them an idea on HOW they might fix or Suckup to you to make things better.

    dont you love the idea that a kid walks in and shatters the cookie jar, mopes around because some one is upset with them..Then goes in and says they are sorry.. And gets a cookie?
    (old Doonesberry)
    The religious Right, has this great Idea, that it dont matter what you Do in Life as long as you admit it was bad, and get Forgiven..

    https://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury/2018/04/22

    Wouldnt it be nice to have a group that demands certain credibility and respect for those they support?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 11:54am

      Re: HOw to make nice..

      "The religious Right, has this great Idea, that it dont matter what you Do in Life as long as you admit it was bad, and get Forgiven.."

      Except they deny deny deny, project, accuse, wildly attack and then go insane. They will never admit to anything.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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