Immigration and Customs Enforcement spent $2.8 billion to surveil Americans from 2008 to 2021.
The report titled “American Dragnet: Data-Driven Deportation in the 21st Century” from the Georgetown Law Center for Privacy and Technology details how ICE used warrantless, mass spying tactics to deport people believed to be in the US illegally.
The report found the agency could run images against a facial recognition database that includes a third of Americans and was quickly able to learn where hundreds of millions of people lived, all without any judicial oversight.
“In fact, ICE has used face recognition technology to search through the driver’s license photographs of around 1 in 3 (32%) of all adults in the U.S. The agency has access to the driver’s license data of 3 in 4 (74%) adults and tracks the movements of cars in cities home to nearly 3 in 4 (70%) adults. When 3 in 4 (74%) adults in the U.S. connected the gas, electricity, phone or internet in a new home, ICE was able to automatically learn their new address.”
State DMVs are vital to ICE in their hunt for illegal immigrants. Several states allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, but also allow law enforcement to access their state driver records seeking for undocumented people to deport.
“16 states and Washington, D.C. have allowed undocumented people to apply for driver’s licenses… However, in at least five of those 17 jurisdictions, ICE can warrantlessly search through state driver records for the purpose of civil immigration enforcement. In at least six of those 17 jurisdictions, ICE has used face recognition to scan drivers’ license photographs to carry out deportations.”
The report details other underhanded tactics used by ICE to locate illegal immigrants. One method is for law enforcement to interview unaccompanied minors seeking asylum. During the questioning, the children are pressured to reveal the identity and locations of undocumented relatives in the US.