Government/Legal

Journalists detained at U.S.-Mexico border sue Trump administration over First Amendment violations

Several journalists have sued the Trump administration after they were detained at the U.S. southwest border while covering migrant caravans over the summer, claiming Border Patrol agents violated their First Amendment guarantee of a free press by asking them about their sources and photos.

The five freelance journalists said they were singled out when attempting to return to the United States after traveling in Mexico to report on the plight of migrants who were traveling by the thousands to the U.S. border last year and earlier this year.




The journalists claim that border agents, Mexican and American, detained and questioned them about people in their photos in an attempt to find out who was behind the formation of the caravans.

A group of journalists has sued the Trump administration after being detained at the southern border while covering migrant caravans, saying Border Patrol agents violated First Amendment free-press guarantees by quizzing them about their sources and photographs.

The five freelance photojournalists claim they were singled out when coming back to the U.S. after traveling in Mexico to report on the thousands of migrants traveling to the U.S. border in caravans last year and in early 2019.

They said border patrol agents — both Mexican officials and U.S. agents — questioned them about the people in their photographs, asking who were the instigators.

“As a freelance photojournalist covering news and various issues, I want to know that I am free to work without government interference,” said Mark Abramson, one of the plaintiffs.



The suite alleges that the journalists’ First Amendment rights were violated because detentions and searches of photos ‘chilled’ a free press.

The five plaintiffs have had their work published in media outlets such as The New York Times, The Intercept and BuzzFeed.

“A core principle of our democracy is the freedom of the press. That freedom is imperiled when the government uses the pretext of border screening to interrogate journalists who were simply doing their jobs,” said Esha Bhandari, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the journalists.

They claim in their suit that the federal government was singling them out for persecution.

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