WASHINGTON — Customs and Border Protection has compiled a list of 59 mostly American reporters, attorneys and activists who are to be stopped for questioning by border agents when crossing the U.S.-Mexican border at San Diego-area checkpoints, and agents have questioned or arrested at least 21 of them, according to documents obtained by NBC station KNSD-TV and interviews with people on the list.
Several people on the list confirmed to NBC News that they had been pulled aside at the border after the date the list was compiled and were told they were being questioned as part of a “national security investigation.”
CBP told NBC News the names on the list are people who were present during violence that broke out at the border with Tijuana in November and they were being questioned so that the agency could learn more about what started it.
In a statement, the ACLU’s Esha Bandhari said the rights group is “exploring all options in response.”
“This is an outrageous violation of the First Amendment,” said Bhandari, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. “The government cannot use the pretext of the border to target activists critical of its policies, lawyers providing legal representation, or journalists simply doing their jobs.”
The list, dated Jan. 9, 2019, is titled “San Diego Sector Foreign Operations Branch: Migrant Caravan FY-2019 Suspected Organizers, Coordinators, Instigators, and Media” and includes pictures of the 59 individuals who are to be stopped. The people on the list were to be pulled aside by Customs and Border Protection agents for questioning when they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to meet with or aid migrants from the Honduran caravan waiting on the Mexican side of the border.
The list includes 10 journalists, seven of them U.S. citizens, a U.S.-based attorney and others labeled as organizers and “instigators,” 31 of whom are American. Symbols on the list show that by the time it was compiled 12 of the individuals had already been through additional questioning during border crossings and nine had been arrested.
In some cases, CBP had also compiled dossiers on the individuals with the help of intelligence from Mexican officials, according to the materials obtained by KNSD.
This article originally appeared on NBC