Immigrant advocates concerned about feds' use of facial recognition technology

Posted: Updated:
LONG ISLAND -

The FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are using facial recognition software to scan through state DMV files, according to a new Washington Post report.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have approved measures to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. In three of those states, the report found that ICE has scanned DMV databases to conduct facial recognition searches.

Levittown state Sen. Kevin Thomas says he voted against New York's green light bill for reasons like this.

"They can literally go in there and get access to this without a warrant or anything like that," Thomas said. "I don't think there are adequate protections in the current law to prevent that from happening."

Patrick Young, of the New York Immigration Coalition, says he believes New York's bill will shield undocumented immigrants who obtain licenses from unwarranted federal searches.

"We built into the New York state law the important protection that this information could only be turned over in cases in which there was a federal judge who issued a warrant for it," Young says.

He does, however, realize that this report may discourage many undocumented immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses.

State lawmakers passed the green light bill last month, but all nine Long Island state senators voted against it.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law so that immigrants who are in the country illegally will be able to obtain driver's licenses as soon as December.

 

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