ICE Is Using Tools Intended to Catch Terrorists to Hunt Down Immigrants

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The U.S. government has been using phone surveillance technology typically intended to combat terrorism to seek out undocumented immigrants, according to federal documents obtained by the Detroit News.


The revelations come from an unsealed federal search warrant affidavit that confirms that authorities “are using secret devices that masquerade as a cell tower to find people who entered the U.S. illegally,” according to the paper.

While the technology isn’t new, the targets are, and privacy as well as immigration rights activists are concerned. The White House has ramped up its pursuit of undocumented immigrants in a number of ways, with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials recently bragging about the number of immigrants it has detained since Donald Trump took office.

The Detroit News highlights two cases of undocumented immigrants targeted by the surveillance devices. In both cases, the immigrants have criminal histories, but the issue at hand is whether it’s appropriate for the state to use counter-terrorism surveillance technology for immigration cases. The former implies a grave and far-reaching threat that the vast majority of immigration cases will never rise to.

In the past, ICE has been criticized for placing people in detention for lengthy periods of time, and has come under fire for targeting the most vulnerable members of the immigrant community. Just last week, federal immigrations agents attempted to enter a New York City elementary school to question a fourth grader.

But using counter-terrorism surveillance technology is new ground for immigration officials, and points toward the lengths Trump’s administration will apparently go to capture undocumented immigrants.

Read more at the Detroit News.

Staff writer, The Root.