Mexico_border stop_1

Two photojournalists stopped at US-Mexico border for secondary screening

December 29, 2018

Bing Guan and Go Nakamura, American photojournalists, were pulled into secondary screening on Dec. 29, 2018, while driving through the San Ysidro point of entry, a border crossing between San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers separated Guan, who was driving his car, and Nakamura and questioned them individually. Guan told the Committee to Protect Journalists that he was questioned by two plainclothes CBP agents, one of whom produced a tear sheet with photographs of people who had been around the caravan. Guan told CPJ that the agents showed him two or three sheets of photo arrays “with between 9 and 12 photos” on each page. These included some photos that appeared like mugshots and others that seemed like surveillance photos.

Guan told The Intercept that he recognized two individuals as anti-migrant activists and thought that a third was associated with Pueblo Sin Fronteras, an immigrant rights group. Guan said that the CPB agents referred to the people in the photos as “instigators.”

Guan was asked to open his camera and show photographs, which he did, reasoning that it would be too dark to identify anyone, according to the account in The Intercept.

Likewise, Nakamura told CPJ that a CBP officer asked him to show his photographs to prove he was a photographer. The officer then showed Nakamura photographs of 20 people and asked whether he had seen them in Mexico. Nakamura said that he was not given an explanation of who the people were.

Two days prior to the secondary screening, Nakamura and Guan were stopped by Mexican municipal police officers who photographed their passports.

A few weeks before he was pulled into secondary screening, Guan had driven through the same San Ysidro port of entry without any issues, he said.

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

Correction: This article previously stated that both photojournalists were students at the International Center for Photography in New York. Only Bing Guan attends ICP.

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