Is there really merit in the so-called liberal call to abolish ICE? Seems there clearly is.
A new bombshell report from the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy & Technology claims boldly that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is spying on all Americans.
Yes, you read that right. No one seems to be free from the tentacles of this agency.
According to the new report, “American Dragnet: Data-Driven Deportation in the 21st Century,” ICE has often, without any judicial, legislative or public oversight, accessed datasets containing detailed personal records on the vast majority of people in the United States.
“Anyone’s information can end up in the hands of immigration enforcement simply by applying for a driver’s license; driving on the roads; or signing up with their local utilities to get access to heat, water and electricity,” Georgetown said in the report.
Since its founding in 2003, ICE was given sweeping powers to fight terrorism and enforce immigration law. Since then, the agency has collected data on hundreds of millions of Americans largely without much oversight or accountability, the report states.
“ICE has not only been building its own capacity to use surveillance to carry out deportations but has also played a key role in the federal government’s larger push to amass as much information as possible about all of our lives,” the report states. “By reaching into the digital records of state and local governments and buying databases with billions of data points from private companies, ICE has created a surveillance infrastructure that enables it to pull detailed dossiers on nearly anyone, seemingly at any time. In its efforts to arrest and deport, ICE has—without any judicial, legislative or public oversight—reached into datasets containing personal information about the vast majority of people living in the U.S., whose records can end up in the hands of immigration enforcement simply because they apply for driver’s licenses; drive on the roads; or sign up with their local utilities to get access to heat, water and electricity.”
The two-year investigatory report revealed the following startling facts:
■ ICE has scanned the driver’s license photos of 1-in-3 adults.
“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 report states.
■ ICE has access to the driver’s license data of 3-in-4 adults and tracks the movements of drivers in cities home to 3-in-4 adults.
“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,” the report said.
■ ICE could locate 3-in-4 adults through their utility records.
“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. Almost all of that has been done warrantlessly and in secret,” the Georgetown Law report says.
In a country with laws, it seems ICE is operating without any respect for state privacy laws and without the need for warrants. ICE, the report found, spent an estimated $2.8 billion between 2008 and 2021 on surveillance, data collection and data-sharing initiatives.
The report’s finding is based on thousands of pages of ICE documents obtained in response to hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests, and a comprehensive review of ICE spending.
The report’s authors now want Congress to investigate and conduct oversight into ICE surveillance. They also offer state and local communities a set of concrete suggestions for dismantling this surveillance dragnet.
“I was alarmed to discover that ICE has built up a sweeping surveillance infrastructure capable of tracking almost anyone, seemingly at any time. ICE has ramped up its surveillance capacities in near-complete secrecy and impunity, sidestepping limitations and flying under the radar of lawmakers,” said Nina Wang, a policy associate at the Center on Privacy & Technology and a co-author of the study.
ICE has so far not commented on the report.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News.