“Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be able to join the U.S. Intelligence Community and get access to spy agency secrets and tools that would help them surveil millions of Americans regardless of their immigration status” is something no decent person has ever said, but ICE officials emboldened under the mass deportation policies of Donald Trump’s administration are actively exploring the possibility:
Internal advocates for joining the America’s spy agencies—known as the Intelligence Community or the IC—focus on the potential benefits to the agency’s work on counterproliferation, money laundering, counterterror, and cybercrime. The official added that joining the IC could also be useful for the agency’s immigration enforcement work––in particular, their efforts to find and arrest undocumented immigrants with criminal arrest warrants (known in ICE as fugitive aliens).
But civil liberties advocates and government watchdog groups—as well as some current and former U.S. officials—are concerned at the prospect of the nation’s immigration enforcers joining the ranks of America’s spies.
“The idea that ICE could potentially get access to warrantless surveillance is frankly terrifying,” said Jake Laperruque of the Project on Government Oversight. Under Trump, agents have commonly disregarded the rule of law and taken frightening steps to speed up arrests, including plans to collect the social media information of immigrants and obtaining technology that would allow them access to license plate information all over the U.S. But apparently, that’s not enough. Patrick Toomey of the American Civil Liberties Union:
“The prospect of ICE joining the Intelligence Community, if true, should sound alarm bells,” he said. “Such a move threatens to give an agency responsible for domestic immigration enforcement access to a vast pool of sensitive information collected by our spy agencies for foreign intelligence purposes. Those spying tools do not belong in the hands of ICE agents.”
Of course, officials will argue that vastly expanded powers would help track national security threats and “transnational crimes, including drug trafficking, money laundering, cybercrimes, and arms trafficking,” but it’s abuse of these powers and the targeting of both immigrant families and U.S.-born families that should worry all. After all, the leaders of this administration keep claiming that it’s thugs and “bad hombres” that are getting swept up. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient arrested for taking a wrong turn says otherwise.