Unloved and abandoned by their own families, several unruly people have taken to harassing migrants and people of color at airports this holiday season. Besides filling the gaping hole in their lives, their aim is to portray migrants as a threat to national security or local communities, and a drain on our economy. They may film and share videos to:
- Misrepresent the reality of migration experiences, focusing on individual cases to fuel negative stereotypes.
- Dehumanize migrants, reducing them to faceless figures to stoke fear and prejudice.
- Spread disinformation about migration policies and their impacts.
To their utter shock and horror, several people have just now woken up to the reality that their fellow passengers at our airports might not have been born in America! When migrants and asylum seekers are released from processing centers and detention, their friends, loved ones, non-profit organizations and even their attorneys often buy them a ticket to go to their final destination/sponsor in the United States. Several states are also using taxpayer resources to kidnap and send migrants to sanctuary cities, which is a crime. You may also encounter migrants and travelers sleeping at airports across the country. In any case, everyone deserves the right to travel and be housed without fear of violence and harassment.
Filming asylum seekers and perceived migrants at airports is intended to:
- Intimidate and harass arriving migrants and people of color, creating a hostile and unwelcoming environment.
- Gather personal information about individuals for potential future harassment, incite hate and discrimination.
- Document perceived “infractions” to immigration laws, aiming to report or pressure authorities against migrants.
Harassing people at the airport, including taking their video without their consent, is not only potentially illegal but also deeply problematic for several reasons:
Privacy Violation: Filming someone without their consent is a violation of their right to privacy. In many states, including California, it might be considered an invasion of privacy and potentially illegal under several codes. Public spaces like airports have reduced expectations of privacy, but capturing specific individuals, especially close-ups of them and their immigration paperwork, is crossing the line.
Harassment: If the filming or other actions make the person feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or harassed, it is crossing the line into illegal harassment. Harassment laws vary by state, but the core principle is that no one should be subjected to behavior that is unwelcome and interferes with their daily life. Even if you don’t intend to harass, the perception of the filmed person matters.
Disruption: Airports are supposed to be safe and orderly environments. Unwanted filming or harassment can disrupt operations and create a stressful environment for other passengers and staff.
Potential for harm: In extreme cases, harassment or unwanted filming can escalate into physical or verbal assault. Even if it doesn’t reach that point, it can still be a deeply upsetting and humiliating experience for the target.
Doxxing: We have also witnessed that asylum seekers and migrants are being doxxed online, which means their release papers, including their names, date of birth, address and phone numbers, have been posted online without their informed written consent. This is illegal.
If you witness someone being harassed or filmed without their consent, it is important to take action. You can report the incident to airport security or law enforcement and write to the Department of Transportation to take action to protect everyone at airports. You can also offer support to the person being targeted, if it is safe to do so. If you see migrants being threatened and doxxed online, report these posts.
In short, remember the golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. Respect people’s privacy and boundaries, and avoid any behavior that could make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
Instead of focusing on filming or harassing others, consider using your time at the airport productively or simply relaxing and enjoying the journey. Remember, everyone deserves to feel safe and respected in public spaces.
Happy Holidays from the Lal Legal family.