ICE trawling data from schools and abortion clinics in legally questionable practice

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ICE trawling data from schools and abortion clinics in legally questionable practice

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Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been using legal loopholes to access private data from abortion clinics, schools, and news outlets.

ICE agents regularly used administrative subpoenas, also known as 1509 custom summons, to acquire records, according to a review of subpoenas accessed by Wired. The database of requests was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. These administrative subpoenas were designed to help the agency with criminal investigations into illegal imports. However, the agency filed 1509 requests more than 170,000 times between 2016 and 2022.

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Some of the requests raised privacy concerns. For instance, ICE sought records from a Texas youth soccer league, surveillance video from an Illinois abortion clinic, and student records from a Georgia elementary school. The agency also attempted to get news agencies in two instances to reveal who their sources were.

“It seems reasonable that ICE should be able to inspect records from a company like Amazon for customs investigations,” a former high-level Department of Homeland Security official said. “But what possible use or authority would ICE have for subpoenaing records from an abortion clinic?”

ICE sent an average of 70 1509-related requests a day, according to the database.

ICE has come under additional scrutiny under the Biden administration. For example, the agency accessed 336,000 location points via data harvested from hundreds of millions of mobile devices. Much of this data was acquired through data purchased without a warrant. The House Judiciary Committee probed the practices in August.

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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) revealed in March 2022 that ICE had filed multiple 1509 requests to obtain millions of money transfer records.

ICE did not respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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