Utah"s driver"s privilege card enables undocumented immigrant to drive, get insurance, and accessibility financial solutions at area banks. (Hyoung Chang/The Denver write-up via Getty Images)

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

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As Mayra Raymundo cd driver to work each evening, she obsessively checks she rearview mirror. She terrified a cop will certainly pull her over and find the end she doesn’t have actually a driver’s license or vehicle insurance. She would need to admit she is undocumented, risking deportation come Guatemala.

Raymundo, 31, functions nights cleaning a personal school outside Providence, Rhode Island. She earns $11.50 an hour. There is no a car, Raymundo said she can’t earn a living to support her 2 young daughters.

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“Basically, if you have actually a car, friend can uncover work. If not, then no,” stated Raymundo, including that she might land a project that payment $15 an hour if she had a driver’s license. “Without a license, i live in consistent fear.”

Raymundo and also two of her co-workers, also undocumented, said they prayed for state legislator to give a bill the would allow them to attain a license. Rhode Island legislators have actually tried to pass this bill for more than 10 years.

Sixteen states, add to Puerto Rico and also Washington, D.C., permit undocumented immigrant to receive driver’s licenses or similar IDs known as steering privilege cards, eliminating the chance of arrest because that driving there is no a license, a typical fast-track come deportation. More places space considering that as research study shows previously adopters lessened the likelihood of hit-and-run accidents, lower insurance costs for drivers, increased the variety of insured vehicle drivers on roads and improved poor rates.

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But immigrant authorities space using driver’s patent data to find the really people that are supposed to advantage from the brand-new laws.

At the very least seven states have shared an individual information from drivers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement due to the fact that January 2020, according to a center for publicly Integrity investigation. Sometimes, immigrant agents will certainly ask motor-vehicle agency staff to run a facial acknowledgment search to match a listed photo. Various other times, they look for addresses and driving documents for details people.

Agents regularly say these immigrants are suspects in crimes, yet sometimes castle are browsing for people they think committed just a civil immigration infraction, such together overstaying a visa.

Some immigrant rights groups now question whether it’s too risky because that undocumented immigrant to gain licenses.

“There’s quiet a most work to perform to ensure details is protected,” claimed Mayra Cedano, executive, management director that Comunidades Unidas, a Utah nonprofit that works very closely with undocumented families. “A the majority of folks in our neighborhoods said, ‘I won’t threat it. Ns won’t renew to danger being deported simply to drive.’”

Some says verify ICE’s requests. Plenty of do not.

Public Integrity asked every jurisdiction that enables undocumented individuals to drive how they manage requests indigenous ICE. Their regulations or inner policies varied widely, and also some refused to describe them.

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Most don’t call for proof that ICE investigate relate come criminal task rather than civil immigrant infractions. When requests come their method citing boy exploitation, drug trafficking or other such investigations, this states provide them, taking them at confront value.

Only four states – new Jersey, brand-new Mexico, Virginia and Washington – require agents to develop a court order or arrest warrant signed through a judge prior to handing over an individual data. At the very least two other states, California and Hawaii, happen laws explicitly prohibiting motor automobile departments from share information specifically related to immigration enforcement with ICE.

Some of the various other jurisdictions – favor Washington, D.C. – did no share privacy policies but said they are committed come protecting drivers’ an individual information. And also ICE said it does not use license details to target people to deport.

But public Integrity uncovered that ICE has actually requested information specifically for immigration enforcement in some cases over the last year and a half. And advocates speak they doubt jurisdictions have the right to be certain the company won’t use driver’s license data to track down undocumented immigrant who have actually committed no crimes.

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

In California, because that instance, a DMV spokesperson stated ICE “must agree” not to use an individual information for immigrant enforcement. The DMV counts on ice to follow these rules and also granted all 141 requests native the agency in the last year and also a half.

In Utah, which has a comparable policy, Comunidades Unidas’ Cedano said increased fear about what the federal government will execute with the information has actually kept part undocumented immigrants from using for control privilege cards. The 31,000 world with control cards last year, follow to data indigenous the Utah room of windy Safety, stand for a fall of about 7,000 in the previous decade.

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

Delaware and also Vermont, meanwhile, permit their motor auto departments to give information to ICE solely for immigration enforcement.

And in Oregon and Maryland, ICE can directly accessibility statewide regulation enforcement databases, consisting of driving records. No request required.

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

ICE accessed Maryland’s law enforcement database – which contains drivers" personal information – end 4,800 time in the previous year and also a half. ICE also conducted 37 facial recognition searches v the state"s image Repository System. Maryland did no clarify how plenty of of these incidents associated drivers’ license data, again introduce the concern to countryside Security.

"It shouldn"t be a threat to gain a driver’s license. ...It provides me foolish that people will need to think around data, that their information deserve to be given to ICE," stated Juan Manuel Guzman, state advocacy manager of the youth-led immigrant rights team United us Dream. He said he acquired his patent in Maryland in 2014, once the state enabled undocumented immigrants to do so.

"Whenever you give agencies – it can be ICE, it might be the CIA – cost-free rein and unchecked power, they can go with so lot data and also use the dangerously,” that said. “I think it"s exceptionally concerning."

ICE pursues drivers’ information

As much more states permitted undocumented immigrant to drive, federal immigration authorities started contacting state motor vehicle departments to aid identify someone in a picture or to see if a human being was life under an alias.

A 2019 Washington short article investigation found that ICE and also the FBI submitted hundreds of facial acknowledgment requests come state motor automobile departments between 2015 and also 2019. In Utah alone, dozens the searches were significant as having returned a “possible match.” that unclear how numerous of those requests associated criminal activity.

In may 2020, ICE published a report declare it has a policy versus agents requesting facial recognition searches uneven they involve human being suspected of criminal activity. The report states ICE supervisors consistently review this requests.

About 150 civilization marched in 2004 in support of a invoice to allow undocumented immigrants the ideal to use for a driver"s patent in California. (Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles time via Getty Images)

A spokesperson because that ICE decreased to say whether this is a new policy and, if so, as soon as it got in effect. He claimed the firm does no make these requests just to target people for deportation.

“Like other regulation enforcement agencies, ICE may use DMV data in support of continuous criminal investigations, or to check information about individuals that are considered a priority because that the agency,” Mike Alvarez, the spokesperson, claimed in an email.

But public Integrity discovered that ice cream requested info from at least three states’ motor automobile departments for immigrant enforcement — all after the day of the agency’s 2020 report.

ICE requested an individual’s deal with history, criminal history, website traffic violation background and a picture in September 2020 from the Connecticut knowledge Center, i beg your pardon stores an individual data native the state’s room of motor vehicles. The human being was suspected of entering the nation illegally, i beg your pardon is a polite infraction. The center denied the request.

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In December 2020, ice requested information from Washington state’s licensing department there is no stating the crime the individual allegedly committed. The department denied the request.