ASNE joins civil liberties organizations in letter to DHS

ASNE joined more than 100 civil liberties organizations on a letter to the Department of Homeland Security protesting DHS' surveillance of activists, journalists and lawyers working with individuals seeking asylum; practices which, among others, were documented in several news stories in recent weeks (see a story from the NBC affiliate in San Diego here and a story from The Nation here). The main thrust of the letter is:
  • CBP's creation of a database of, and dossiers on, journalists, activists and lawyers based on their lawful - indeed, First Amendment-protected - activities likely violates the Privacy Act of 1974 because the government is not allowed to create records about U.S. citizens and permanent residents when they are not pertinent to an authorized law enforcement activity.
  • It also chills freedom of association and speech by intimidating people into silence. Most important for our purposes, this undermines press freedom and government accountability. In addition to the intimidation factor, the seizure of devices may threaten a reporter's relationship with his or her sources - it can also deter sources from interacting with that reporter in the future. Targeting lawyers can deny migrants' access to legal services.
  • ICE monitoring of protest activity also threatens the rights of freedom of speech and association because the monitoring is politically motivated in nature. It also violates the Privacy Act. 
As the surveillance of journalists (and others) is a clear violation of your First Amendment rights (and completely antithetical to who we are as a society), we felt an absolute need to join this effort.