Federal authorities seem to have found a way around progressive attempts to shield dangerous illegal immigrants from deportation. Over the past five years, an increasing number of cities – and at least one state – declared sanctuary status, meaning they will not allow local law enforcement to work with federal immigration agencies to apprehend illegals who commit additional crimes after crossing the border. But with the help of private companies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has figured out how to locate and remove these individuals from the country.
According to The Guardian, “new documents reveal that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) has tapped a network of private technology companies to skirt such sanctuary policies, facilitating access to ‘real time’ information about incarcerations and jail bookings, which enables them to pick up immigrants targeted for deportation.”
These documents, which were obtained by a coalition of immigrant advocacy groups, showed that ICE has started using Lexis Nexis and Equifax. These are companies that collect and sell personal and criminal justice data. The agency has also been locating illegal aliens by filing subpoenas and legal requests to Big Tech companies like Google and Facebook.
“The report focuses on Colorado, where a sanctuary policy has limited cooperation between local agencies and Ice since 2019,” according to The Guardian. “But many of the databases Ice has acquired access to are national in scope, the documents show.” Under Colorado’s sanctuary policies, law enforcement agencies are not allowed to share probation information with ICE or to comply with their detainer requests, but can provide the federal agency with jail booking and release information.
In February 2021, ICE hammered out an agreement with Lexis Nexis in which it would pay the company over $17 million for access to its “virtual crime” platform Accurint. This database gathers information from thousands of different sources, including law enforcement, to provide a “comprehensive view of people’s identities” according to the company’s website. They offer dispatch records, crime data, offender data, crash data, and license plate reader data. The program allows law enforcement officers to receive jail booking alerts on individuals, paired with their personal information including phone records, vehicle registration, and court and property records. ICE has also paid the company to use other databases and products to gather information that could lead to the deportation of illegals hiding in sanctuary cities.
Colorado, and likely other states, have not imposed regulations addressing how these companies can obtain and sell consumer data. It appears that open borders legislators’ sanctuary policies have not caught up with ICE’s methods.
Naturally, this development has rankled more than a few feathers among progressives.
“These contracts with data brokers completely erode any sort of protections you can have against search and seizure,” Jacinta Gonzalez, the field director for Latinx advocacy group Mijente, told The Guardian. “The idea that there would have to be an investigation and probable cause that would lead to getting a warrant is just totally thrown out the window when Ice can use private companies to come up with information just for investigative purposes, and then arrest and deport someone.”
Gonzalez argued that Lexis Nexis should “stop pretending to be just research companies or publications or whatever it is that they kind of pretend to be,” and “reconsider their practices and those contracts.”
If ICE’s use of private companies to get around sanctuary laws becomes more of a story, there can be no doubt progressives will do everything they can to put a stop to it. One avenue they might choose is the courts. When asked whether opponents of the agency’s methods could mount a successful legal challenge, Liberty Nation’s legal editor, Scott Cosenza, replied:
“It’s hard to understand on what basis a court would have to rule that this practice is illegal. If Equifax, for instance, has data that it has a legal right to possess, why couldn’t the US government purchase that data to aid in a fugitive recovery? No valid prohibition jumps off the page at me. Could a policeman have purchased a telephone book to gain access to a suspect’s address 50 years ago? What’s different here? There’s more data and it’s electronic, but that’s it.”
Even if, however, a legal assault proves to be ineffective, progressives could use a tactic it has honed to perfection over the years: pressure campaigns. Activists like Gonzalez can take to social media and the airwaves to demonize Lexis Nexis and Equifax for helping ICE apprehend and deport illegal immigrants. They could try shaming other companies that do business with them. In the age of woke corporatism, it is a strategy that just might work.