The Insidious List
posted by Danielle Citron
News recently broke that, in Salt Lake City, Utah, a group calling itself “Concerned Citizens of the United States” sent a memo to local newspapers, radio stations, television outlets, state law enforcement, immigration and DHS agents, and Utah legislators listing over 1,300 alleged “illegal immigrants” who the group believed should be “immediately deported.” Next to each name appeared the person’s Social Security number, date of birth, address, and, at times, medical information, such as a pregnant woman’s due date. The group claimed that it “observe[d] these individuals in our neighborhoods, driving on our streets, working in our stores, attending our schools, and entering our public welfare buildings.” It continued: “We spen[t] the time and effort needed to gather information along with legal Mexican nationals who infiltrate thei social networks and help us obtain the necessary information we need to add them to our list.” The group then stepped up the volume: “We see a direct relationship between these illegal aliens and the escalation of crime in our communities in the form of drug and alcohol abuse, theft, and domestic violence. . . . They need to go and now.” The group signed off with this missive: “We will be listening and watching.”
This feels eerily familiar. In 1997, an anti-abortion group set up a website called Nuremberg Files that revealed abortion providers’ home addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and the names of their childrens’ schools. The site listed abortion providers who had been wounded in grey and those who had been killed with their names struck in black. To be sure, the “Concerned Citizens” memo neither threatened nor sought to incite violence as in the Nuremberg case. Nonetheless, the memo took a hateful “us versus them” turn in suggesting that illegal aliens bear responsibility for increased drug abuse, crime, and domestic violence. Akin to the Nuremberg Files case, the “Concerned Citizens” invaded the privacy interests of the listed individuals by giving publicity to their Social Security numbers. While they declined to identify themselves, one imagines that they will be found and could face tort privacy claims.
Aside from its privacy implications, the list seems bent on intimidation, suggesting that the group inflitrated the alleged illegal aliens’ communities and would be “watching.” Of course, the group could have provided tips to ICE and law enforcement — that would not be troubling. But the group went so much further than that, sending the list of individuals’ personal information to media of all stripes. This suggests an agenda to intimidate and bully.