U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced a new policy to limit the agency’s entanglements with reporters, including requiring pre-approval before arresting journalists or subpoenaing their records.
Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson said “compulsory” tools should only be used as a last resort and in cases where a crime is believed to have been committed.
He also said reporters should generally be given a voluntary chance to cooperate with ICE’s investigations before the agency turns to more aggressive means.
ICE’s deputy director is in charge of approving compulsory actions.
“The use of investigative tools to obtain information or records related to the journalistic activities of members of the news media is not a standard ICE investigative practice,” Mr. Johnson said. “Under this new policy, we are taking steps to protect free speech and individuals’ rights under the First Amendment, while continuing to focus ICE resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety, and border security.”
ICE developed the policy at the direction of Congress, which included language in the agency’s budget this year to that effect.