Utah"s driver"s privilege card enables undocumented immigrant to drive, acquire insurance, and access financial services at area banks. (Hyoung Chang/The Denver short article via Getty Images)

ICE says requests for drivers’ an individual data aren’t regarded immigration enforcement. Experts concern that’s not true.

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As Mayra Raymundo drives to job-related each evening, she obsessively checks her rearview mirror. She’s terrified a cop will pull she over and also find the end she doesn’t have a driver’s patent or vehicle insurance. She would have to admit she is undocumented, risking deportation to Guatemala.

Raymundo, 31, works nights cleaning a personal school exterior Providence, Rhode Island. She earns $11.50 an hour. Without a car, Raymundo said she can’t earn a living to support her two young daughters.

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“Basically, if you have actually a car, you can discover work. If not, climate no,” said Raymundo, including that she can land a task that payment $15 an hour if she had actually a driver’s license. “Without a license, ns live in continuous fear.”

Raymundo and two of she co-workers, likewise undocumented, stated they prayed because that state lawgiver to provide a bill that would enable them to acquire a license. Rhode Island legislators have tried to happen this bill for an ext than 10 years.

Sixteen states, add to Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., permit undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses or similar IDs well-known as control privilege cards, remove the possibility of arrest for driving there is no a license, a common fast-track come deportation. An ext places room considering that as research shows previously adopters lessened the likelihood the hit-and-run accidents, lower insurance expenses for drivers, increased the number of insured chauffeurs on roads and improved poverty rates.

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But immigration authorities room using driver’s license data to discover the very people who are claimed to advantage from the new laws.

At least seven states have actually shared personal information from motorists with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement since January 2020, according to a center for windy Integrity investigation. Sometimes, immigration agents will certainly ask motor-vehicle company staff to run a facial acknowledgment search to enhance a listed photo. Other times, they seek addresses and driving documents for particular people.

Agents frequently say these immigrants are suspects in crimes, but sometimes castle are searching for civilization they believe committed just a polite immigration infraction, such together overstaying a visa.

Some immigrant rights teams now concern whether it’s too risky for undocumented immigrant to acquire licenses.

“There’s tho a many work to execute to ensure information is protected,” stated Mayra Cedano, executive, management director of Comunidades Unidas, a Utah nonprofit the works carefully with undocumented families. “A most folks in our neighborhoods said, ‘I won’t threat it. I won’t renew to threat being deported simply to drive.’”

Some claims verify ICE’s requests. Countless do not.

Public Integrity request every jurisdiction that allows undocumented individuals to drive just how they manage requests indigenous ICE. Their laws or internal policies varied widely, and also some refuse to define them.

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Most don’t require proof that ICE investigations relate come criminal activity rather 보다 civil immigrant infractions. As soon as requests come their way citing boy exploitation, drug trafficking or other such investigations, this states provide them, taking them at confront value.

Only 4 states – brand-new Jersey, new Mexico, Virginia and Washington – need agents to develop a court bespeak or arrest warrant signed by a judge prior to handing over personal data. At least two other states, California and Hawaii, passed laws explicitly prohibiting motor car departments from sharing information solely related to immigration enforcement with ICE.

Some the the various other jurisdictions – favor Washington, D.C. – did not share privacy policies yet said they room committed come protecting drivers’ personal information. And ICE stated it go not use license details to target people to deport.

But windy Integrity discovered that ICE has actually requested information solely for immigrant enforcement in some situations over the critical year and a half. And advocates speak they doubt jurisdictions deserve to be sure the company won’t usage driver’s patent data to track down undocumented immigrant who have committed no crimes.

“You need to trust that ICE has actually internal safeguards in place, that they won’t usage the details for immigration,” claimed Diane Burkley Alejandro, lead advocate for ACLU civilization Power Fairfax. “But does it happen? … that knows.”

In California, because that instance, a DMV spokesperson stated ICE “must agree” no to use personal information for immigration enforcement. The DMV counts on ice cream to follow this rules and also granted all 141 requests indigenous the firm in the critical year and a half.

In Utah, which has actually a comparable policy, Comunidades Unidas’ Cedano said raised fear about what the government will execute with the information has actually kept part undocumented immigrants from applying for steering privilege cards. The 31,000 civilization with control cards critical year, follow to data native the Utah department of publicly Safety, represent a autumn of around 7,000 in the past decade.

A Utah driving privilege card, left, and a Utah driver"s license, right (Getty Images, left; Utah room of public Safety, right)

Delaware and Vermont, meanwhile, enable their motor automobile departments to offer information come ICE solely for immigration enforcement.

And in Oregon and Maryland, ICE have the right to directly accessibility statewide regulation enforcement databases, including driving records. No inquiry required.

A spokesperson because that the Oregon State Police, i beg your pardon manages the statewide regulation enforcement database, did no answer repetitive questions about whether the state prohibits ice from accessing data because that investigations that do not involve criminal activity. Maryland’s department of publicly Safety and Correctional services referred that question to ICE’s parent, the room of countryside Security. Ice did no respond to a inquiry for comment about that.

ICE accessed Maryland’s law enforcement database – which contains drivers" an individual information – end 4,800 time in the past year and a half. ICE additionally conducted 37 facial recognition searches through the state"s picture Repository System. Maryland did not clarify how many of this incidents associated drivers’ license data, again introduce the inquiry to homeland Security.

"It shouldn"t be a hazard to obtain a driver’s license. ...It provides me mad that civilization will have to think about data, the their information deserve to be given to ICE," said Juan Manuel Guzman, state advocacy director of the youth-led immigrant rights group United we Dream. He said he gained his patent in Maryland in 2014, once the state enabled undocumented immigrants to do so.

"Whenever you offer agencies – it might be ICE, it could be the CIA – free rein and unchecked power, they deserve to go through so much data and use that dangerously,” that said. “I think it"s exceptionally concerning."

ICE pursues drivers’ information

As an ext states permitted undocumented immigrants to drive, federal immigration authorities began contacting state motor vehicle departments to help identify someone in a photograph or to watch if a person was life under an alias.

A 2019 Washington write-up investigation uncovered that ICE and also the FBI submitted countless facial acknowledgment requests come state motor automobile departments between 2015 and also 2019. In Utah alone, dozens of searches were marked as having actually returned a “possible match.” that unclear how numerous of those requests connected criminal activity.

In may 2020, ICE released a report claiming it has a policy versus agents requesting facial recognition searches unless they involve civilization suspected of criminal activity. The report says ICE supervisors on regular basis review this requests.

About 150 people marched in 2004 in support of a bill to permit undocumented immigrant the best to apply for a driver"s license in California. (Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles times via Getty Images)

A spokesperson for ICE decreased to say even if it is this is a new policy and, if so, as soon as it entered effect. He stated the firm does not make these requests just to target people for deportation.

“Like other legislation enforcement agencies, ICE might use DMV data in assistance of recurring criminal investigations, or to check information concerning individuals who are considered a priority because that the agency,” Mike Alvarez, the spokesperson, claimed in an email.

But publicly Integrity found that ice cream requested details from at the very least three states’ motor auto departments for immigrant enforcement — every after the day of the agency’s 2020 report.

ICE asked for an individual’s attend to history, criminal history, website traffic violation history and a picture in September 2020 from the Connecticut knowledge Center, i beg your pardon stores an individual data indigenous the state’s room of motor vehicles. The human was doubt of beginning the country illegally, i beg your pardon is a civil infraction. The center denied the request.

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In December 2020, ice cream requested information from Washington state’s licensing department without stating the crime the individual accused committed. The department refuse the request.