Border Angels Responds to Government Tracking of Activists and Journalists

Mar 8, 2019
9:54 AM

Earlier this week, NBC 7 San Diego published documents obtained from an anonymous source, stating in a story that the documents show the government “created a secret database of activists, journalists and social media influencers tied to the migrant caravan and in some cases placed alerts on their passports.”

Among those listed in the database were at least two Border Angels human rights defenders, which is a lot when you consider that the leaked document contained just under 60 individuals on it  and from various organizations. Border Angels executive director Enrique Morones, who is not listed in the exposed government database, was interviewed by me for Latino Rebels to get his reaction on what he feels is clear government overreach. (Full disclosure: I am the president emeritus for Border Angels.)

The country has learned through government communications that the “Operation Secure Line” database document was shared and used in collaboration by the FBI, CBP, ICE and Homeland Security, among other agencies who have been tracking journalists. At least one attorney and many immigrant rights activists and humanitarians who volunteered to provide humanitarian aid to Central American caravan asylum seekers in Tijuana are also on the list. The information on the dossiers is intrusive, and indicates who was interviewed and who was arrested. Some are labeled organizers, while others are listed as instigators, along with information about their cars, family members and travel patterns.

A dystopian San Diego and border region reality lived by all is real: there is now substantiated proof that our government is keeping dossiers on journalists. The same government that puts children in cages is flagging humanitarian workers’ passports. With the confirmation of the leaked database, we can also begin to find answers to questions about the flagging of Al Otro Lado attorneys’ travel visas, which were cancelled on recent trips to Mexico.

Here on the militarized frontier, organizations like Border Angels, Al Otro Lado, human rights supporters and the journalists who come here to document history have been spied on. We live under an administration that declared a national crisis where there is none. However, every person of good conscience who cares about freedom, liberty and the constitution (Republicans and conservatives included), should be outraged. We should all be watching in terror—incensed at what this state-sponsored spying operation means for freedom of expression in the United States.


Mexican-born Sara Gurling is a progressive Democrat serving as a 2019-2021 California Democratic Party 80th Assembly District Delegate. She is a trade unionist with more than 20 years representing workers rights and serves as a Labor Representative with the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United. She was the Director of Organizing with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of San Diego and is known primarily as a humanitarian pro-justice labor organizer, immigrant rights activist and labor studies college teacher. She is also the president emeritus of Border Angels. Her journalistic radio and print work is featured in the United States and Mexico.