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A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a U.S. government database of people identified as being "known or suspected terrorists" violates the constitutional rights of American citizens who are added to the watchlist, the New York Times first reported.

Why it matters: Per the Times, the opinion by Judge Anthony Trenga, of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, calls into question the constitutionality of a key tool that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security use for screening potential terrorism suspects.

The big picture: More than a million people, most of whom are not U.S. citizens, are on the list, which is maintained by the F.B.I.’s Terrorism Screening Center, the NYT notes. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed a lawsuit on behalf of 19 American citizens who are on the watchlist, claiming that their inclusion violated their due-process rights.

  • Those on the list face intense scrutiny by authorities; it can stop them from getting benefits and prevent people from boarding planes or entering the U.S.
  • CAIR called the opinion a "complete victory," but the NYT notes that it's unclear what will happen next; the judge in the case has asked the Justice Department and the lawyers for the plaintiffs to submit briefings on that topic.

Go deeper

Biden confronts mounting humanitarian crisis at the border

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Pool/Getty Images     

Just over a month into his presidency, President Biden is staring down a mounting crisis at the border that could be just as bad as the ones faced by Barack Obama and Donald Trump, if not worse.

Why it matters: Immigration is an issue that can consume a presidency. It's intensely and poisonously partisan. It's complicated. And the lives and welfare of vulnerable children hang in the balance.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The rise of vaccine passports

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Vaccine passports were touted early in the pandemic as an important piece of the plan to get people back to normal life. Now they’re becoming a reality.

Driving the news: CLEAR, the secure digital identity app that you see in airports around the world, and CommonPass, a health app that lets users securely access vaccination records and COVID test results, have joined forces.

"Vaccine tourism" stretches states' supplies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans who are highly motivated to get vaccinated are traveling across state lines after hearing about larger vaccine supplies or loopholes in sign-up systems.

Why it matters: "Vaccine tourism" raises ethical and legal questions, and could worsen the racial socioeconomic and racial inequalities of the pandemic.