Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have entered into a contract with Vigilant Solutions that will give mass deportation agents access to as many as two billion license plate records, including those belonging to permanent residents and U.S. citizens. The system gives the agency access to billions of license plate records and new powers of real-time location tracking, raising significant concerns from civil libertarians”:“
Vigilant Solutions is a private company that uses partnerships with local law enforcement agencies to gather data from police car cameras, resulting in some 100 million recorded license plate sightings a month. That plate information comes tagged with "a date, time, and GPS coordinates," The Verge writes, meaning that with its contract, ICE can search the database to find "every place a given license plate has been spotted in the last five years." Additionally, if ICE agents want to track a particular car, they can receive phone or email alerts whenever that specific plate is spotted on a Vigilant Solutions-partnered camera.
An assessment by the Department of Homeland Security found that such a database is important for ICE because when "other leads have gone cold," information about the "previous locations of a vehicle can help determine the whereabouts of subjects of criminal investigations or priority aliens to facilitate their interdiction and removal."
“As with any law enforcement tool, its mere existence does not immediately connote abuse or civil rights violations,” notes Think Progress. But that’s giving benefit of the doubt to a dangerous, unleashed immigration agency that has commonly tossed aside the law, disregarded the basic rights of immigrants, racially profiled U.S. citizens in attempts to arrest them, and swept up moms and dads with no criminal record by the thousands.
In Oregon last September, ICE agents attempted to detain a Latino U.S. citizen they assumed was an undocumented man. Agents refused to identify themselves as bystanders or to produce a warrant signed by a judge.