SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Immigration and Customs Enforcement is upping its game, as it taps into Bay Area technology to track down undocumented immigrants. A Livermore company has just inked a deal with the agency that will allow ICE to track license plates.
The technology has been around for years, a useful tool for local law enforcement to help catch criminals.
“They use it for whenever there’s a kidnapping, they use it for violent criminals that they know have fled via vehicle,” said former FBI agent Jeff Harp.
License plate readers may now soon help track undocumented immigrants. ICE recently finalized a contract with Bay Area company, Vigilant Solutions, gaining access to a nationwide database of license plate records. ACLU attorney Matt Cagle says the move crosses the line, putting private and personal information at risk.
“Over time, if our car is seen many times in public by these license plate readers, enforcement can paint a picture of our whereabouts, where we’ve been, where we work.”
According to Harp, that information is actually public, and that can often be accessed through other high-tech means like Google or Facebook. He says this is one way for ICE to still do its job, even in places that make it hard, like sanctuary cities.
“We’ve got cities that have prohibited law enforcement from working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, then Immigration and Customs Enforcement- they’re going to have to think of other ways use other methods to get what they need,” said Harp.
Cagle says targeting immigrants through technology isn’t the way to do it.
“Communities should be able to decide whether their local systems become part of Trump’s high-tech deportation machine,” said Cagle.
An ICE spokesman says “Officials don’t plan to build a database of license plate info or contribute any data to a national public or private database through this contract.”