Thanks to a contract finalized earlier this month, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency now possesses the power to conduct real-time location tracking on illegal immigrants.
According to The Verge, the contract signed by ICE specifically granted it “agency-wide access to a nationwide license plate recognition database” run by Vigilant Solutions, a technology firm that develops tracking solutions “for law enforcement, by law enforcement.”
This database reportedly contains information on 2 billion license plate sightings, including the “date, time, and GPS coordinates of” each sighting.
Access to this database will empower ICE agents with two key benefits: One, the ability to determine “every place a given license plate has been spotted in the last five years,” and two, “a detailed record of the target’s movements.”
This will in turn make it massively easier for ICE agents to track the location of illegal immigrants. Suppose a particular illegal immigrant’s car is spotted multiple times at a specific home. Chances are the illegal is living there.
The Verge further notes that ICE agents will have the option of receiving “instantaneous email alerts whenever a new record of a particular plate is found — a system known internally as a ‘hot list.'”
So, if an illegal immigrant is pulled over at a McDonald’s parking lot for speeding, as an example, the ICE agents tracking him will receive an instant notification.
This technology could greatly bolster the Trump administration’s efforts toward stopping illegal immigration, though it should be noted that ICE has had the opportunity to utilize Vigilant Solutions technology for at least six years.
“ICE first tested Vigilant’s system in 2012, gauging how effective it was at locating undocumented immigrants,” The Verge reported. “Two years later, the agency issued an open solicitation for the technology, sparking an outcry from civil liberties group.”
Then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson promptly canceled the solicitation soon after, though some “rogue” field offices reportedly pursued a contract with Vigilant Solutions anyway, according to The Verge. It remains unclear what happened to those offices.
Regarding the entire ICE agency, however, the contract signed earlier this year marked “first agency-wide contract” with Vigilant Solutions.
Moreover, because President Donald Trump and his top officials view illegal immigrants as criminals versus victims, it’s unlikely they’ll interfere with it.
However, the agency may suffer a backlash from civil libertarians like those at Reason magazine, who argue the “database shouldn’t exist at all, whether or not ICE uses it.”
There’s an argument for that, of course. There’s also an argument that the Transportation Security Administration should not be able to search airline passengers’ books, but Americans have been sacrificing some liberty in the name of security since before the 9/11 attacks.
And until illegal immigration grounds to a complete halt, ICE must use every tool at its disposal to bring those who violate our federal immigration laws to justice.
If the power is abused, that’s what the American court system is for. And it will be used to defend American freedoms.
Please share this story on Facebook and Twitter and let us know what you think about ICE conducting real-time location tracking on illegal immigrants.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.