Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA")
- EPIC Joins Coalition Urging Congress to Investigate Destruction of Records on Family Separation: EPIC and a coalition of organizations sent a letter to Congress urging an investigation of the Department of Homeland Security's records management practices. The concern follows the administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration enforcement policy and family unification efforts. Recent reports indicate that border agents are improperly destroying records of the separated families, making it difficult to reestablish family connections. "The purposeful deletion of records by border agents would be a clear violation of the [Federal Records Act], with dire humanitarian consequences," the group stated. The letter also encouraged Congress to ensure DHS is fulfilling its transparency obligations by making its policy guidances available to the public. EPIC has previously warned the Senate about the misuse of immigrant data by the DHS. (Jul. 12, 2018)
- Republican DACA Bill Would Expand Use of Drones, Biometrics: The Secure and Succeed Act (S. Amdt. 1959 to H.R. 2579), sponsored by several Republican Senators, would link DACA with hi-tech border surveillance. Customs and Border Protection would use facial recognition and other biometric technologies to inspect travelers, both US citizens and non-citizens, at airports. The bill also establishes "Operation Phalanx" that instructs the Department of Defense—a military agency—to use drones for domestic surveillance. EPIC has pursued many FOIA cases on border surveillance involving biometrics, drones, and airport body scanners, In a statement to Congress, EPIC warned that "many of the techniques that are proposed to enhance border surveillance have direct implications for the privacy of American citizens." (Feb. 21, 2018)
- Nominee for DHS Secretary Favors Less Wall, More Surveillance Tech at Border + (Nov. 9, 2017)
- No Plans to Target Dreamers Using DACA Data + (Oct. 4, 2017)
- EPIC Asks Senate to Enforce Privacy Safeguards for "Dreamers" + (Oct. 3, 2017)
- End of DACA Program Poses Privacy Risks to Dreamers + (Sep. 20, 2017)
- EPIC FOIA: EPIC Seeks Details of ICE, Palantir Deal + (Aug. 15, 2017)
- EPIC, Coalition Focus on Immigration Orders, Data Practices, and Government Accountability + (Mar. 22, 2017)
- White House to End Controversial "Secure Communities" Program + (Nov. 24, 2014)
- Senate Adopts Immigration Bill with E-Verify Requirement + (Jul. 5, 2013)
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On September 5, 2017 the Department of Homeland Security ('DHS") published a memo rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") program. Established in 2012, the program collected personal data of for at least 800,000 individuals. These individuals provided federal agencies with personally identifiable, including biometric, data in order to obtain deferred action, work-permits, and the ability to travel outside of the United States with guaranteed reentry.
In the 2012 Privacy Impact Assessment, the DHS stated that personal data would be "protected from disclosure to ICE and CBP for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings." The PIA also stated that DACA recipient's personal information would be protected by the Privacy Act because it was entered into "mixed databases." In a January 25, 2017 Executive Order President Trump stated that "Agencies shall . . . ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information."
The Privacy Act of 1974 protects United States Citizens and lawful permanent residents. On September 6, 2017 the Dream Act of 2017, H.R. 3440, was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Boarder Security. The adjust the status of DACA recipients ("Dreamers") from deferred action, to conditional permanent residency. The Dream Act of 2017, and other acts that move Dreamers from deferred action to lawful permanent resident status require collection of personally identifiable information, including biometric information, and medical examinations.
On June 15, 2012, Janet Napolitino, then secretary of the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"), in a memo titled Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children, established DACA program. DACA granted two year renewable residential and work permits to undocumented people who were under thirty; came to the United States before the age of sixteen; had lived in the United States for at least five years; were enrolled at school or graduated from high school or were honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed forces of the United States; and had not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or multiple misdemeanor offences or otherwise posed a threat to public safety. These permits were to be renewable, and DACA recipients could apply for advance parole that would allow them to travel abroad.
On January 9, 2017 USCIS published Instructions for Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which instructed DACA applicants on the application process. The instructions outlined the "Evidence" required to verify an applicant's eligibility and included biometric and historical information such as fingerprints, photographs, and more. In the 2012 Privacy Impact Assessment, the DHS stated that personal data would be "protected from disclosure to ICE and CBP for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings." Now that the program is set to expire, the personal data provided by DACA applicants is at risk of use for unauthorized purposes, implicating the federal Privacy Act.
EPIC has long supported vigorous enforcement of the federal Privacy Act and opposed efforts that target individuals in immigrant communities. Privacy threats presented by the end of DACA highlight and reinforce EPIC's challenges to the multiple databases that hold DACA recipient's personally identifiable information.
Among these, EPIC engaged in litigation with the FBI over their Next Generation Identification ("NGI") database which resulted in EPIC obtaining information upon which EPIC has identified several problems with the NGI database in statements to Congress oversight Committees, which have indicated strong concern about the FBI's facial recognition program. The program which is currently in use has a 20% error rate in facial recognition searches.
EPIC has submitted a FOIA requests regarding the use of algorithms, FALCON, in immigration proceedings. EPIC has also petitioned for accuracy in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). EPIC has urged FOIA Compliance on Immigration Enforcement.
- EPIC: Next Generation Identification
- EPIC: Secure Communities
- EPIC: Algorithmic Transparency
- FALCON FOIA Request
- EPIC Letter to DHS Secretary John F. Kelly urging FOIA compliance (April 24, 2017)
- Dream Act of 2017
- White House, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States - Executive Order 13768 (January 25, 2017)
- European Data Protection Supervisor, Opinion on the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield draft adequacy decision (May 30, 2016)
- Sam Sacks, DHS Chief Can't Promise She Won't Hand Over Dreamer Data to ICE, (Sept. 27, 2017)
- Tal Kopan, DACA deal: Here are just some of the things that could go wrong, (Sept. 17, 2017)
- Christian Hetrick, Murphy: I'll Block Feds From Using DACA Data in NJ, Observer (Sept. 9, 2017)
- Sean Illing, Can these Democratic attorneys general save DACA? I asked 9 legal experts., Vox (Sept. 8. 2017)
- Victor Luckerson, The Cruel Irony of the DACA Database, The Ringer (Sept. 7, 2017)
- Michelle Mark, Can ICE now come and find me?': DACA recipients fear data they provided to government will be used against them, Business Insider (Sept. 6, 2017)
- Renato Mariotti, Bait and switch: Deporting dreamers using DACA applications, The Hill (Sept. 6, 2017)
- Issie Lapowsky, The Feds Promised to Protect Dreamer Data, Now What?, Wired (Sept. 5, 2017)
- Betsy Woodruff, The Trump Administration Now Has Tons Of DACA Data And Is Poised To Weaponize It, The Daily Beast (Sept. 5, 2017)
- Craig Timberg, Jerry Markon, Trump order on privacy protections could facilitate deporting immigrants, Chicago Tribune (January 27, 2017)
- Julian Gustavo Gomez, There's a federal database of undocumented immigrants like me. Don't let Trump get it. Washington Post (Nov. 22, 2016)
- Betsy Woodruff, Immigrants Gave Their Info to Obama, Now Trump Could Use It to Deport Them, The Daily Beast (Nov. 11, 2016)