Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Please Support Common Dreams This #GivingTuesday

Our staff has grown and our coverage of the climate emergency, COVID-19, and rising authoritarianism has intensified over the last two years. But, our expenses during the pandemic have gone up as well. This has been one of the toughest years we’ve ever faced. Donations are down. Traffic to the website from Google and Facebook have inexplicably fallen off a cliff. If we have any chance of meeting our fundraising targets for the year, we need this to be the best #GivingTuesday ever. Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers ever make a donation. We're counting on you. Can you make that gift today to help Common Dreams end the year strong?

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

Customs and Border Protection agents prepare to question a motorist at a checkpoint along Highway 94 outside of October 17, 2007 in Campo, California. Many states far from the border are having to confront illegal immigration issues like never before as the flow of migrants in search of work spreads to the far corners of the United States. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Attorneys and Reporters Interrogated at Border About Political Beliefs In 'Outrageous' Violation of Rights

"This is intimidation and violates the Constitution."

Julia Conley

Rights advocates are issuing fresh warnings of intimidation and repressive tactics in the wake of new reporting about U.S. border patrol agents detaining and interrogating journalists and immigration lawyers, including questions about their political beliefs.

NBC News reported Monday that at least one journalist and four immigration lawyers were stopped at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stations near the border in Texas and Arizona in an apparent attempt to identify individuals in the area who oppose the Trump administration.

"The government cannot use the pretext of the border to target and punish activists critical of its policies, lawyers providing legal representation, or journalists simply doing their jobs. Whether near the border or not, it's a First Amendment violation and there's nothing complicated about that." —Esha Bhandari, ACLU

Taylor Levy and Hector Ruiz, who were working at the border to provide legal assistance to asylum seekers, were not included on CBP's list of 59 reporters, organizers, and perceived "instigators" in the San Diego area—but both were stopped at the border in recent months and subjected to questioning and forced to hand over their cell phones to agents.

"I was treated like a criminal," Ruiz told NBC of his experience being stopped by a group of agents as he was crossing the border near Juarez, Mexico.

Ruiz was asked about his political beliefs during a four-hour detention at a CBP station which continuted until he agreed to allow the agents to look through his cell phone contacts.

"They asked me what my opinion was on the administration, just generally. And how we are doing economically," Ruiz told NBC.

Weeks later, Levy was stopped in her car when she was attempting to cross into El Paso. She was held for two hours in a station and told that she would be arrested if she didn't answer the CBP agents' questions.

The reports of the agency's conduct were denounced as "intimidation" on social media.

As Common Dreams reported last year, a change in the Immigration and Nationality Act more that 70 years ago resulted in a 100-mile zone near all U.S. borders—where 200 million people live—in which Americans officially do not have constitutional rights protecing them from warrantless searches and demands by CBP agents. 

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held up the rule over the objections of the ACLU and other rights groups. The ruling has resulted in incidents like Levy's and Ruiz's detentions, as well as those of a documentary filmmaker and two other lawyers.

Esha Bhandari, an attorney with the ACLU, rejected the notion that the CBP can legally seize reporters' and lawyers' phones and detain them without cause within the 100-mile zone.

"The government cannot use the pretext of the border to target and punish activists critical of its policies, lawyers providing legal representation, or journalists simply doing their jobs. Whether near the border or not, it's a First Amendment violation and there's nothing complicated about that," Bhandari told NBC.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

WHO, South Africa Urge Nations to Lift 'Naive' Omicron Travel Bans

"The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic."

Brett Wilkins ·


EU Joins Rights Group in Condemning Israel's 'Day of Destruction' of Palestinian Homes

"Demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace."

Brett Wilkins ·


GOP 'Silence Speaks Volumes,' Says Ilhan Omar as Boebert's Bigotry Goes Unpunished

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Brett Wilkins ·


Africans Should Be 'Applauded, Not Punished,' Say Advocates Amid Omicron Travel Ban

"What is going on right now is inevitable," said African Union Vaccine Delivery Alliance co-chair Dr. Ayoade Alakija. "It's a result of the world's failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent, and speedy manner."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo