Wyden Requests Investigation of ICE Bulk Surveillance of Money Transfers
Homeland Security Ended Participation in Massive Database Following Questions from Wyden
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today called for an investigation of a previously secret surveillance program which collected millions of money transfer records from people sending money to or from the Southwest United States and Mexico.
Under the program, Homeland Security Investigations used a form of subpoena power to order two companies to turn over every money transfer over $500, to and from California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico. This data was shared with hundreds of federal, state and local government agencies, who can search it without any court oversight, through a non-profit created by the Arizona Attorney General. According to information provided by HSI, two dozen other money transfer companies voluntarily submitted data to this program
Wyden’s office requested a briefing from the Department of Security in January. Shortly after that DHS informed Wyden that it would no longer use its authority to request these records.
“Law-enforcement agencies have ample authority to subpoena financial information about individual or specific transactions they believe are related to illicit activity,” Wyden wrote in a letter to the DHS Inspector General. “Instead of squandering resources collecting millions of transactions from people merely because they live or transact with individuals in a handful of Southwestern states or have relatives in Mexico, HSI and other agencies should focus their resources on individuals actually suspected of breaking the law.”
Wyden outlined several specific concerns about the DHS program, and questions about how it was approved in the first place, in the letter to the DHS IG. Read the full letter here.
Keith Chu, 202-224-3789
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