President Donald Trump vetoed a congressional resolution that was blocking his border wall emergency.
Dozens of law enforcement agencies nationwide are sharing license plate information with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as part of an operation targeting undocumented immigrants, according to documents released by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The documents, obtained by the ACLU of Northern California through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, spark questions about whether the cooperation of the agencies with ICE violates state laws.
The Tulare Police Department, Merced Police Department, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, Manteca Police Department and the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office are among the 80 agencies nationwide who have agreed to share information with ICE, the documents show.
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“It is appalling that ICE has added this mass surveillance database to its arsenal, and that local law enforcement agencies and private companies are aiding the agency in its surveillance efforts,” Vasudha Talla, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, said in a news release.
“Local law enforcement agencies must immediately stop sharing their residents’ information with this rogue and immoral agency.”
In addition to ICE being able to obtain the information from local law enforcement agencies, federal immigration agents also have access to a massive license plate reader information database through a private contract, according to the ACLU.
More than 9,000 ICE agents have access to a vast automated license plate reader database run by a company called Vigilant Solutions.
ICE has access to more than 5 billion scans of license plate locations through the Vigilant system from its contract with Thomson Reuters.
ICE’s contract to have access to the data began Dec. 21, 2017, and runs through Sept. 30, 2020 for an estimated cost of nearly $6.1 million, records show.
Talla said this type of surveillance raises privacy concerns and “there’s a huge amount” of civil liberty-related issues with the practice.
The surveillance can reveal “down to the minute where you are at any given time,” Talla said. “We think it’s really an invasion of privacy,” she told The Bee. “We think this is all happening under the radar.”
Talla said the ACLU is calling for an end to the surveillance, and for an investigation into compliance of Senate Bill 34, which deals with automated license plate recognition systems, and Senate Bill 54, the state’s Sanctuary Law.
The ACLU believes the practice violates both laws, but even more specifically, SB 34, Talla said. “We are calling for the local agencies in California… to stop sharing the data with ICE,” she said.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency
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