By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent
Nearly 60 people including two Asian American journalists are among those under federal government surveillance due to their connection to a migrant caravan into the United States from Central America, according to documents obtained by NBC San Diego’s Mari Payton.
The journalists identified by the report include photojournalists Go Nakaumura and Bing Chen Guan, both who are citizens of the United States. Documents revealed alerts were placed on the passport of both men. The information is used by agents from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations and some agents from the San Diego sector of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), according to NBC San Diego.
Nakamura and Guan both covered the caravan as part of their jobs, as did the eight other journalists on the list. The other 50 or so people are identified as attorneys or advocates who worked with or witnessed the caravan and the events surrounding it.
Nakamura is based out of New York and his portfolio on his website features mostly photos shot around the world. Guan is also based in New York. He graduated from Columbia University with a BA in history in 2017. In his Linked In profile, Guan describes himself as a freelance journalist
Nakumura told AsAmNews by phone that he and Guan were working together
“If I ever want to go back to Mexico to cover the migrants, there’s a big chance I won’t be able to go back in again,” he said. “At this point I’m not sure that I’m scared or not. They didn’t do anything physical tome. I’m just on the list.”
Nakamura said he suspected something was going on when he was stopped by Mexican police and a photo was taken of his passport. When he tried to cross the border back into the United States, he was pulled over for a secondary inspection. He recalls being questioned for an hour by a border patrol agent.
“They asked me all those questions about my background, what I was doing in Mexico. I answered honestly. Most of the time I was independent-freelancing. I managed to pick up job from Reuters .”
This is the second time this has happened to Nakumura. He remembers going through much of the same scrutiny after returning from Iraq in 2016. He said things returned to normal after about six months.
Still Nakamura described his experience in Mexico as “weird,” but “not scared.”
Members of Congress have expressed concern about the news. Rep Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Rep Kathleen Rice (D-NY) wrote a letter to the commissioner of the US Border Patrol, Kevin McAlleenan.
“The appearance that CBP is targeting journalists, lawyers and advocates and particularly those who work on immigration matters or report on border and immigration issues, raises questions about possible misuse of CBP’s border search authority and requires oversight to ensure the protection of Americans legal and constitutional rights. “
CBP says the names on the list are those people who were present during violence that broke out on the border. The spokesperson said journalists are being tracked in an attempt to learn what started the violence.
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