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  • A security camera sits on a building in New York City March 6, 2008.

    A security camera sits on a building in New York City March 6, 2008. | Photo: Reuters

ACLU pointed to surveillance technologies, like Stingray cell phone trackers, automatic license plate readers (ALPRs), drones and algorithm-based policing software. 

As U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) takes major steps to strengthen its nexus – with local government functionaries, educators and anti-immigrant groups – in an effort to continue the crackdown on undocumented immigrants in California, there is a push for a state law that would require transparency and accountability from the local law enforcement authorities. 

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Immigrant Activists Warn ICE Gaining Foothold in US Schools

On Tuesday, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said, on its website, Senate Bill 21 (SB 21) which was proposed in December 2016 is designed to "empower communities and their local elected officials to stop the secret and discriminatory use of police surveillance technologies."   

The bill is based on a nationwide Community Control Over Police Surveillance (CCOPS) movement spearheaded by 17 organizations, including the ACLU, and is designed to put local residents and elected officials in charge of decisions about surveillance technology. 

ACLU pointed to sophisticated surveillance technologies, like Stingray cell phone trackers, automatic license plate readers (ALPRs), drones and algorithm-based policing software that are being heavily deployed under the Trump administration. 

SB 21 would require law enforcement agencies to draft policies by July 1, 2018. And, in doing so, the law enforcement agencies will have to list all types of surveillance technology used, the authorized reasons to do so, the types of data collected along with the levels of employees who use the information and a description of their training. 

SB 21, aimed at curbing immigration officers from accessing any unauthorized data on undocumented immigrants and putting in place a robust surveillance law, comes at a time when nearly 18 U.S. cities are actively considering their own surveillance bills. 

Over 60 enforcement agencies are currently participating in ICE's program. And nearly half of these agencies are operating in schools in the states of Maryland, Arizona and South Carolina.  

In August, ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the immigration authorities that sent three Suffolk County minors to detention in California "under the guise of a "crackdown" on transnational street gangs." Suffolk County doesn’t have a federal immigration enforcement agreement, but attorneys pointed to other avenues for cooperation, including a gang task force and informal deals.  

Recently, in Long Island, New York, school authorities at Brentwood High School – with an over 75 percent Latino population – accused some of its students of connections with the MS-13 gang. The educators allegedly shared the records of those students with the school resource officers, resulting in student suspensions and arrests on the grounds of their immigration status.

Many districts in the country are fighting back this intrusion and are adopting “sanctuary school” resolutions to help students feel safe from the immigration authorities. 

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