Border Control just got shadier


Dawson Fagan, Opinion Editor

The Trump administration has designated Customs and Border Patrol as a “security agency,” a new classification that exempts CBP from the Office of Personnel Management’s disclosure policy and allows them to redact information in Freedom of Information Act requests. CBP now has augmented secrecy privileges and can withhold records from public disclosure.

Immigration agencies in America have been vying for these special measures for years.

Peter Vincent, former general counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told The Daily Beast, “ICE has for the past decade been keenly interested in joining the Intelligence Community.”

If CBP or ICE become a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, they would have startling spying measures and extraordinary privacy privileges. While CBP did not attain this clearance level, they did get increased opportunities in both regards.

Now that CBP is a “security agency,” the organization has the same legal rights and secrecy privileges as intelligence agencies such as the FBI and Secret Service.

The reason for this change in designation is a Twitter account was posting information about CBP agents and administrators, such as salaries and work locations.

However, the OPM, a government employee information management agency, stated these details are — or were — considered public information.

A CBP representative later stated, “Out of concern for the safety of our workforce, CBP leadership advocated for and recently received OPM’s agreement to designate CBP as a Security Agency, protecting CBP employee’s information from OPM’s disclosure policy.”

So, CBP agents now have the same identity protection as FBI agents.

With children abused and dying at the border, CBP needs more oversight and transparency, not less.

“One thing we find in FOIA responses is agency employees breaking the law or doing the wrong thing. Sometimes we can identify them because their name is on the email,” Matthew Hoppock, an immigration lawyer, told CNN. “Now we may be getting FOIA responses showing people breaking the law, but we don’t know who they are.”

Anonymity removes accountability. If the CBP is an ethical institution with nothing to hide, why are they shrouding themselves in further secrecy?