How ICE uses social networks to track down and arrest illegal immigrants

Immigration and customs enforcement (ICE) described how ICE is using social network and data received from the Internet to hunt down and arrest illegal immigrants. This writes The Intercept.

Как ICE использует социальные сети для выслеживания и арестов нелегалов

Photo: Depositphotos

In the ever-expanding surveillance system, which the ICE uses to track immigrants who can be deported even use email. ICE CLEAR uses a database of Thomson Reuters that is part of a growing industry commercial data brokers, who contract with government agencies, essentially bypassing the barriers that can prevent the government from collecting certain types of information.

Emails were included by the government in the investigation in response to the request of the Federal public defender whose client was charged with a felony for illegal entry into the country. Since the vast majority of immigrants deported from the country, are not subject to criminal prosecution, ICE rarely discloses details related to investigations.

The client, whom we will call “Led” to protect him and his family, lived in the USA since he was a year old. He worked as a roofer and raised a family; his children are U.S. citizens. Previously, he was deported to Mexico for non-violent criminal offence of stealing goods in the shop, and was not identified by local law enforcement agencies since his return to the United States.

“I came back to be with his family — said Led the judge at the sentencing hearing. — I’m sorry. That’s all.”

Anatomy studies

According to the court, the CID investigation began on 22 February 2018, when the national centre for criminal analysis and modeling ICE has taken the initiative to start an investigation and sent it to the ICE office in Los Angeles.

ICE periodically uploads the data sets of the deportees in NCATC through a system of data analysis the Agency to see if they returned to the United States. The system retrieves data from other Federal agencies, and commercial data brokers to match the names of the deportees, with the recent registrations of vehicles, utility bills and postal addresses and other records.

These data are open or are transferred to ICE, as in the case of state institutions such as the post office or collected by data brokers, and then sold to ICE, as is the case with many suppliers of electricity or other companies that local legislation.

After receiving guidance, the staff in the office of ICE in Los Angeles requested assistance in the Pacific response centre Agency (PERC). PERC complements the work of the field officers of ICE, providing intelligence support and placing immigration detainees into custody throughout the United States.

A few weeks later, on may 4, 2018, one of the officials PERC wrote that he found the account Sid in Facebook. Sid used his official name in Facebook, although this is a very common name and difficult to distinguish.

The official PERC explained that he used the Thomson Reuters CLEAR to find the home address Sid and the address of his relatives.

Then check the addresses that provides CLEAR via Google Maps, and compared them with the photographs that Led has published in Facebook on the occasion of the birthday of his father. One of the addresses matched is meant that the Facebook account belonged to a man who is looking for ICE.

“When you have someone with a fairly common name, Facebook makes it easier to track,” said Sarah St. Vincent, an expert on supervision, which runs a clinic for the purposes of digital violence in Cornell Tech.

“Happy birthday, dad” — so Sid has signed one of the photos at the party on the occasion of birthday. – Many years of life.”

Former Reuters journalists criticized the news Agency’s contract for $20 million with ICE to use CLEAR, stating that it “binds the good name of Reuters with espionage in the government.” Thomson Reuters executives stress that the newsrooms and data collection company completely separate.

The PERC report also included information on driver license for Sid and his parents. Since 2013, California offers driver’s license to illegal immigrants, but the program has been criticized because it does not protect this information from ICE.

The ICE staff was able to track down an immigrant because of its inclusion in a national database of driver’s license after he renewed his license in California in 2015.

In the case of led, the staff of ICE began to follow the profile in Facebook once confirmed it’s really him. When on may 24, 2018 Led checked into Home Depot to buy roofing materials, ICE officers were waiting for him near the shop before Sid left the Parking lot, and then stopped and arrested him.

Previous order of deportation Sid was immediately restored, but he was not deported; instead, he was charged with a criminal offence.

According to the report of the Bureau of justice statistics in August 2019, more than 55 percent of all Federal crimes prosecuted in a criminal case in the 2018 financial year, have been associated with immigration, and the vast majority of them for illegal entry offenses.

While Federal defenders have the right to request information disclosure, “the prosecution of immigrants is often seen as simply moving documents,” said Julie Mao, Deputy Director of the legal office Just Futures Law dealing with issues related to enforcement and oversight of immigration.

According to Mao, even in cases when the government does transmits information about the detection of illegal immigrants, it mostly focuses on proof of identity of the person and history of immigration.

“Usually, the opening never comes, where the man was subsequently detained, she said. — When the Federal defenders ask for this information, it really reveals a black box about the policing at either the local level or in the framework of the Federal immigration service.”

In January Led was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment in a Federal prison after a judge found him guilty of illegal return. His case is currently on appeal so long as he continues to serve his sentence. He will almost certainly be deported again when it is completed.

St. Vincent believes that the use of social networking to create a dossier on people, as in the case of LEDs, is used to limit freedom of speech for all people in the country, and not only for immigrants, who may be on the radar of ICE.

“If something that you post online can be used against you forever, even if you don’t pose an immediate threat, it is scary,” she said.