Two stories this week show how the Department of Homeland Security is deploying its intelligence apparatus against activists, journalists, and human rights lawyers. [justsecurity.org] While this type of political surveillance rightly raises serious concerns, it is hardly surprising given the immense growth in DHS’s intelligence gathering programs during and since the Obama administration, and the lack of meaningful standards, safeguards, and oversight of their operation.
NBC7 San Diego published a leaked copy of a set of slides titled “San Diego Sector Foreign Operations Branch: Migrant Caravan FY-2019, Suspected Organizers, Coordinators, Instigators and Media,” dated January 9, 2019. The document, which appears under a U.S.-Mexican seal, is essentially a surveillance target list with photographs of 59 people, 40 of whom are identified as U.S. citizens, all of whom seem to have some connection to migrant caravans heading from Central America to the United States. “Alerts” have been placed against the information of 43 people, including 28 Americans. DHS kept dossiers on the targets as well, including one that was shared with NBC 7 on Nicole Ramos, an attorney with a legal center for migrants and refugees in Tijuana, Mexico.