How is the Government Using Paid Databases to Find Undocumented Immigrants?
Undocumented immigrants are easily judged for being in the United States without proper authorization. Many are here out of a desire for a better life. The fact is that undocumented immigrants are considered beneficial for the country. However, how the government is handling these immigrants is concerning to many people. According to 2019 Census Bureau data, 69 percent of undocumented immigrant workers are considered essential to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) fight. They work in agriculture, housing, food services, and health care.
Yet, while they are helping keep the United States running, they fear for their own lives due to the risk of deportation. A study by FWD.us found that more than 70 percent of these workers have lived in the United States for more than a decade, contributing like other workers but without the same protections. Immigrants with concerns about their status are urged to contact an immigration lawyer for assistance.
How is the Government Approaching Undocumented Immigrants?
Under the Fourth Amendment, undocumented immigrants have the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and that this shall not be violated without probable cause, such as a search warrant or explicit consent. However, certain information is being used to harm undocumented workers’ livelihoods.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has a mission of protecting the United States from both undocumented immigration and cross-border crime that is a potential threat to national security or public safety. There are hundreds of statutes that they enforce, which is undoubtedly an important job. However, how ICE enforces these statutes is a concern. The Department of Defense has been known to buy location data from popular Muslim-related apps. The FBI has used facial recognition software on driver’s licenses without the consent of the license holders. Therefore, undocumented immigrants’ lives may also be at-risk of certain practices.
It has recently come to light that ICE has been tracking immigrants in a questionable way. For example, ICE is suspected of using pre-signed warrants to detain immigrants and even forging judges’ signatures that ensure that dangerous immigrants are returned to their home country. The agency also garners information, with questionable approval, from apps and location-sharing services to find the individual. Although the agency would usually need a warrant for this information, they purportedly found a way to act without one.
Anyone that signs up with a utility company gives their name, address, and other pertinent personal information in exchange for service. Because this is considered voluntary, it supposedly provides ICE the loophole of seeking that information without a warrant. It has been alleged that ICE has found a way to access information they are not allowed to collect on their own. That means that any time an undocumented immigrant wants a service considered vital to life, such as running water, heat, and other necessities, they are at risk of being deported.
How has ICE Gained Access to Private Databases?
ICE does not need a court order to illegally collect this data themselves. In 2017, ICE entered a contract for $21 million with a database called CLEAR, run by Reuters. It contains billions of records related to the employment, housing, credit, criminal, vehicle, and utility data histories of people from all 50 states and U.S. territories. This database is updated daily.
ICE has used this database of over 400 million names and information from more than 80 companies in all service categories for surveillance and enforcement operations. As long as companies continue to obtain information from users, third-party data will always be available to the government. Reuters shared that they obtain some of their data from Equifax, a credit reporting agency, and that their database has been used by credit unions, fraud investigators, and police stations. Public records also indicate that the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense also use the data.
Is there Possible Assistance for Immigrant Workers?
Although there has been some protection for undocumented essential workers during the pandemic, and the Biden administration is currently working on a pathway to citizenship, it has been argued that these undocumented immigrants need to have their privacy protected. They need immigration lawyers who will step up and help fight for their rights to a better life.
Others are fighting for this purported misuse of data as well. The House Committee on Oversight calls the commercialization and sale of personal data of utility customers by Reuters an abuse of privacy, and ICE’s use of the data as an abuse of power. The involved parties do not discuss the matter, with ICE claiming that their techniques should be protected. Regardless, the CLEAR database and others like it are powerful ways to find people who would not otherwise be easily found. The charge is that undocumented immigrants are being forced to choose between basic, necessary services or risk deportation.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC are Ready to Assist Those with Immigration Issues
Immigration law is complicated. Knowing how to navigate the system when you are dealing with the fear of deportation can be overwhelming. When the government has questionably used information to find you, you may have a case. Let the Philadelphia immigration lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC handle your case. For a free consultation, call us at 215-496-0690 or complete our online form. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.