Sen. Wyden Reveals Secret DHS Program Collecting Millions of Money-Transfer Records

March 10, 2022

In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, Senator Ron Wyden revealed that one of DHS’s law enforcement components, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) established a bulk surveillance program collecting records of money transfers into/out of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico. Money transfers are commonly used in poor and immigrant communities with limited access to banking.

Authorized by custom subpoenas issued by HSI, financial services provider Western Union sent records of money transfers above $500 to a non-profit organization that provides ICE and state law enforcement with unlimited access to the data. HSI stepped in to provide the subpoenas in 2019, after 10 years of collaboration between Western Union and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Sen. Wyden argued in the letter that HSI went well beyond its authority using custom summons to authorize a bulk data collection program, not a targeted investigation, and failed to provide any oversight of the program. According to the letter, HSI immediately halted their part of program after Sen. Wyden requested a briefing on it in January. EPIC regularly advocates against ICE surveillance of immigrants.

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