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ICE officials in Arizona can now use license plates for investigations

(Facebook/Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

PHOENIX — Immigration officials in Arizona now have access to a national database of license plates.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials told KTAR News 92.3 FM the agency recently signed a contract to obtain access to a license plate reader database. The information from the license plates will be used for their investigations.

“Like most other law enforcement agencies, ICE uses information obtained from license plate readers as one tool in support of its investigations,” ICE spokesperson Dani Bennett said in a statement to KTAR.

Bennett added ICE is “not seeking to build a license plate reader database and will not collect nor contribute any data to a national public or private database through this contract.”

Aside from identifying, arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants, ICE also conducts a wide range of criminal investigations. Those investigations include human smuggling and trafficking, the smuggling of drugs, weapons and other contraband, and child exploitation.

The contract is with West Publishing (TRSS) in partnership with Vigilant Solutions.

ICE solicited a similar contract in 2014, but it did not go through due to privacy concerns. A year later, ICE created a “privacy impact assessment” that describes the controls ICE must put in place “to ensure the agency complies with privacy and civil liberties requirements” when using a license plate reader database.

Bennett noted the assessment has “the most stringent requirements known to have been applied for the use of this technology.” She said the new contract must comply with that assessment.

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