Government records released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal an aggressive effort by the Trump administration to interrogate lawyers, reporters, and activists at the border, according to ProPublica. Two of them, immigration lawyers Taylor Levy and Héctor Ruiz, were stopped and questioned by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Tactical Terrorism Response Team on suspicion of “providing assistance” to a migrant caravan headed for the United States at the time, the documents reportedly show. Levy told ProPublica that an agent asked her why she worked for a Catholic aid organization if she didn’t believe in God. Ruiz said they were questioned about their opinions of the Trump administration and the economy. Levy and Ruiz say they were never told why they were being questioned.
“This whole thing is COINTELPRO for dummies,” ACLU attorney Mohammad Tajsar told the nonprofit newsroom, referencing a long-discredited FBI operation that illegally spied on U.S. citizens including, among others, Rev. Martin Luther King. “[An] intel-gathering apparatus was shared and deployed through a number of different agencies and resulted in a dragnet that ensnared a whole bunch of people.”