Immigration

Now ICE can track license plates, and fears are mounting

June Ester, community liaison for tax collector Doris Maloy, puts up new license plates at the tag office in Tallahassee in 2003 file photo.
June Ester, community liaison for tax collector Doris Maloy, puts up new license plates at the tag office in Tallahassee in 2003 file photo. AP

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contract to access a license plate recognition database is reinforcing undocumented migrants’ fears of being located and deported to their home countries.

ICE wants access to the database with more than 2 billion items as “a tool to support its investigations,” spokesman Dani Bennett said in a statement published in the digital portal The Verge.

That means ICE agents can track the movements of a license plate for the past five years, which could lead to home addresses and other places and people associated with the car owner.

READ MORE: What to do if an Immigration or Border Patrol officer confronts you

The contract also allows ICE to access motor vehicle registration lists, which could provide its agents with real-time addresses and lead to an increase in deportations.

The Verge reported that ICE signed a contract with TRSS, a company that works hand in hand with Vigilant Solutions, which has the largest license plate recognition database in the United States.

ICE agents will be able to receive immediate alerts by email or a mobile app on a “hot list” system that feeds off license plates registered by police cameras, toll booths and other means.

The system can upload 2,500 items at a time to the “hot list.”

Other enforcement agencies use the Vigilant Solutions database and can even add information about vehicles, but ICE said it’s not going to build a new database or add information to the existing one.

The Vigilant Solutions database adds up to 100 million new sightings per month that include date, time and GPS coordinates.

Follow Catalina Ruiz Parra on Twitter: @catalinaruiz.

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