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Freelance multimedia reporter stopped at San Ysidro border crossing, questioned about reporting

August 2, 2019

Beginning in 2017, freelance multimedia reporter Brooke Binkowski noticed she was sent to secondary screening whenever she crossed the U.S.-Mexico border.

“The first few times it was a cursory inspection so I chalked it up to increased security and border agents flexing their muscles more or less because they could,” Binkowski, a U.S. citizen, told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

She said she then became concerned about her treatment in July 2018, when she was pulled into secondary screening as she re-entered via the San Ysidro port of entry. Binkowski told the Tracker that she had been in Mexico, in part, “hunting down documents.”

While she can’t remember the exact date of the incident, Binkowski told the Tracker that her mid-afternoon crossing in July 2018 was unusual, and struck her as “security theater.”

“I was yelled at, intimidated by men with guns on their hips,” she said. “One man got right in my face and screamed that my attitude was fucking shit.”

After she was directed to secondary, Binkowski said she was given a cursory inspection and asked to empty her pockets, but U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers did not ask her to unlock any electronic devices for search.

Officers did question her about where she had been in Tijuana, Binkowski said. When she told them she was a journalist, she was questioned about her reporting.

Binkowski told the Tracker that her car was searched twice before she was permitted to leave. She estimated that she was prevented from crossing the border for approximately an hour and a half before being permitted to enter the U.S.

Binkowski would be stopped each time she crossed the border for the remainder of the year. Read those incidents here.

— The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected]

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