U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Photojournalist stopped and questioned at US-Mexico border

Incident Details

Date of Incident
January 2019

Border Stop

Target Nationality
US Citizenship Status of Target
U.S. non-resident
Denied Entry?
Stopped Previously?
Asked for device access?
Asked intrusive questions about work?
REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
— REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
January 1, 2019

Spanish freelance photojournalist Emilio Fraile was questioned in secondary screening by U.S. authorities while traveling from Tijuana, Mexico, to San Diego, California in January 2019.

Fraile told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that he had been working in Mexico for several months, three weeks of which was spent reporting from Tijuana on the migrant caravan. While attempting to enter the United States, Fraile was stopped and questioned about his work for approximately a half hour.

The questions, Fraile told CPJ, included whether or not Americans were “collaborating” with the migrant caravan. “They were always trying to get information from us,” he said.

When border officials asked to see his photographs, Fraile said that he had already deleted them.

Fraile told CPJ about an additional interaction with U.S. border authorities during his time working in Mexico, in which an agent asked him how many migrants were hidden in a certain area.

In another case, a group of border agents and several others, wearing what Fraile said appeared to be military outfits, approached a group of photojournalists around New Years. Shining a light at them, the agents repeatedly asked, “Where is Emilio?”

Fraile told CPJ he was not sure how they knew his name, and that he felt it was an attempt to intimidate him.

The Intercept reported that Fraile and other Spanish photojournalists had their passports photographed on Jan. 3 by Mexican authorities, who informed the journalists that they share information with the U.S. police.

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