Things That Matter

The Government Accountability Office States That ICE And The FBI Are Using DMV Data To Track Undocumented Immigrants

The FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have reportedly been accessing driver’s license photos for facial recognition searches without license holders’ knowledge, according to The Washington Post. Both agencies have had access to millions of Americans’ photos and all without permission from Congress by tapping into state driver’s license databases. This is all being done with efforts to give the agencies a new source of information on people and as a tool to potentially track both criminals and those who have never committed a crime.

Many are concerned that this is a breach of privacy since this is being done without people’s knowledge or consent.

Credit:Twitter/@engadget

Millions of licenses were scanned by FBI and ICE agents between 2014 and 2017, without the holders knowing. The FBI and ICE have had access American’s photos through their DMV files which include states like Utah, Vermont, and Washington. This is notable since these states offer a driver’s license or limited permit to undocumented immigrants.

This is thought to be the first known case of ICE agents using facial recognition technology to scan drivers’ licenses for surveillance and crime purposes. The report shows how facial recognition technology has quickly become an integral part of daily law enforcement in the U.S. It’s also being utilized to track down suspects in minor crimes like cashing in a check or theft.

While police have generally had access to info such as fingerprints and DNA, the DMV data allows access to photographs that they then match with suspects. According to the report, while some requests required court order, in some other cases, an email to a DMV employee would be enough to give information on an individual. DMV personnel would then search their data for a potential match and provide it to authorities.

What is ICE enforcement doing with the DMV data?

CREDIT:Twitter/@leandrareports

According to a report from the Government Accountability Office that was published last month, 21 states allowed the FBI to scan through the DMV databases. Under that same report, it notes that since 2011, the FBI has logged more than 390,000 facial-recognition searches of federal and local databases, including DMV databases.

Now, many are asking what exactly is ICE doing with some of this obtained information. The report doesn’t exactly reveal if ICE search requests have led directly to the deportation of undocumented immigrants. Matt Bourke, an ICE spokesman, told the New York Times that he could not comment on “investigative techniques, tactics or tools” because of “law-enforcement sensitivities.”

However, Bourke did say that “during the course of an investigation, ICE has the ability to collaborate with external local, federal and international agencies to obtain information that may assist in case completion and subsequent prosecution. This is an established procedure that is consistent with other law enforcement agencies.”

Lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle have expressed their disapproval over reports that the federal agencies were using driver’s license photos.

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“This technology is evolving extremely rapidly, without any, really, safeguards, whether we are talking about commercial use or government use,” Elijah Cummings, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman, said at a hearing on the issue last month. “There are real concerns about the risks that this technology poses to our civil rights and liberties, and our right to privacy.”

At a hearing last month regarding facial recognition technology, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said most Americans have yet to be aware or give consent to use their images for facial recognition purposes.

“No individual signed off on that when they renewed their driver’s license, got their driver’s licenses. They didn’t sign any waiver saying, ‘Oh, it’s okay to turn my information, my photo, over to the FBI.’ No elected officials voted for that to happen,” Jordan said.

In various states, undocumented immigrants can obtain drivers’ licenses. But as news comes out about this breach of privacy, many now realize that the data they are providing to get permits is also being utilized by ICE agents.

These states have never told undocumented people that when they apply for a driver’s license they are also turning over their face to ICE,” Harrison Rudolph, an associate at Georgetown, told the New York Times. “That is a huge bait and switch.”

READ: Woman Pays The Bond Of A Woman Being Held In ICE Detention Center And The Internet Is Living For This Moment Of Kindness

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Tate’s Cookies Threatened to Report Undocumented Workers to ICE If They Unionized

Culture

Tate’s Cookies Threatened to Report Undocumented Workers to ICE If They Unionized

Photo via chocolleto/Instagram

Fans of the crispy, buttery Tate’s cookies might be sad when they hear this news. According to current employees, the popular cookie business has been threatening employees who are trying to unionize.

According to multiple employees, Tate’s cookies threatened to contact ICE if workers vote to unionize next month.

According to Gothamist, most of Tate Bake Shop’s 432 employees are undocumented workers. But the National Labor Relations Act says that undocumented workers have a lawful right to unionize.

The powerhouse baked goods company Mondelēz International owns Tate’s cookies. Additionally, Mondelēz owns other popular brands like Oreo and Chips Ahoy. Local union leaders have called the company “anti-union on steroids”.

Once Tate’s cookies heard rumblings of their workers unionizing, however, they hired an anti-labor consultant. The consultant, Carlos Flores, brags on LinkedIn about keeping businesses “labor free”.

“They began threatening people based on their immigration status, telling them that if their documents are not in order and they attempted to join the labor union they would get deported,” said Eastern States’ Union president, Cosmo Lubrano.

The consultant allegedly told workers that he would review their documentation to see if “everything was in order”. If it wasn’t, he said ICE might “send them back”.

“Just because a worker wants to organize, wants to have representation doesn’t mean a company should make their life miserable,” said Julio, an undocumented worker, to The New York Times.

Tate’s cookies employees only began to discuss the possibility of unionizing when the pandemic hit. Workers felt that the cookie company might not protect them should they fall ill.

“We were in the heart of the pandemic at that time and they didn’t know any of the rules that applied to them,” said Anthony Miranti, an Eastern States’ union delegate.

“Will they get paid if they have to self-quarantine? How do they get safety equipment? They were telling us about how they’re all at minimum wage and needed more paid time off and there was just nobody to listen to their problems.”

Officially, Mondelēz denies all claims or threatening workers. They released a statement saying: “Any allegation that the company has violated any aspect of the National Labor Relations Act is untrue. Tate’s prides itself on treating all its employees with respect, and we have fostered over many years an inclusive, supportive, caring work environment and culture with our employees.”

Despite the threats to their livelihood, many workers still believe unionizing will ultimately be beneficial.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of people who work in union shops. They say things are better,” said an undocumented worker by the name of Catalina to the New York Times. “Why not give this an opportunity?”

As Miranti says, “I think the workers that produce these products should be able to put their heads down on their pillows at night and know their job is secured, that their family has the best coverage out there, that they’ll have a pension to retire on someday.”

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Racists Threatened To Call ICE On This Mexican Restaurant After They Kept Their Mask Rule

Things That Matter

Racists Threatened To Call ICE On This Mexican Restaurant After They Kept Their Mask Rule

Several states across the country (mostly governed by Republican leaders) have decided to repeal their mask mandates despite their own health officials urging against such moves.

Yes, the vaccine roll out has improved under the Biden administration – with nearly 2 million people getting vaccinated each day – but that is still not enough for the United States to reach herd immunity over night.

Now, thanks to these irresponsible moves by Republican governors, Americans are left to fend for themselves against anti-makers. In fact, a Mexican restaurant in Texas that decided to keep its mask mandate for diners is now facing racist attacks with people threatening to call ICE on its workers.

Texas Mexican restaurant is facing a backlash for sticking to its mask rules.

Houston’s Picos Restaurant, a small family-owned Mexican restaurant, is facing racist threatening comments after deciding to prioritize public health amid an ongoing pandemic. Several people sent hateful messages through social media and called the restaurant, threatening to report staffers to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“It was just horrific,” co-owner Monica Richards told the Washington Post. “People don’t understand unless you’re in our business what it felt like, how hard it was to go through everything we went through during covid. For people to be negative toward us for trying to remain safe, so that this doesn’t continue to happen, just makes zero sense to us.”

Picos decided to maintain their mask mandate as the governor lifted the state-wide one.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) rescind the statewide mask mandate despite the fact that a vast majority of his state’s residents remain vulnerable to COVID-19. The governor has ignored the advice of his own public health officials who say the state should wait on lifting these mandates until their is a greater incidence of vaccination in communities.

With Abbotts order, Texas will become the largest state in the nation to no longer require masks, which has not come easily for many businesses that are navigating enforcement mask rules to protect employees and customers while facing backlash.

Experts agree that masks are among the most effective way to curb the spread of COVID-19, but they’ve also become a partisan symbol. Masks have become so symbolic that one conservative group is set to hold a mask burning party the day the order is lifted, according to the Washington Post.

Picos hasn’t been the only restaurant facing such a backlash.

In fact, another Mexican restaurant in Houston, Cantina Bar, has been the victim of similar threatening messages, while several staff have been intimidated by screaming customers who refuse to wear masks even while it was required by a state order. Another Houston Mexican restaurant, Cantina Barba, received similar intimidating messages, and staff have been bullied by some screaming customers who refused to wear masks while it was required statewide, co-owner Steven O’Sullivan said.

“This has been ongoing through covid,” co-owner Steven O’Sullivan told the Post. “We’ve had threats of calling ICE. I had one guy just stand there and berate one of my bartenders and tell her ‘you’re an absolute idiot, you don’t know what you’re doing. If you think these masks are going to save your life, you’re stupid’ blah, blah, blah. Nobody wants to deal with that stuff.”

Another employee at a separate restaurant had to get stitches after he was hit in the head with a glass by a maskless customer he approached, Houston Police said. Hopefully, the governor will still encourage his constituents to do what’s right and continue to wear masks when asked to do.

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