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The Secure and Succeed Act Is [Still] Bad For Immigrants and Americans Alike

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) recently introduced The Secure and Succeed Act of 2018 (“Secure Act”), which mirrors Cornyn’s Building America’s Trust Act, and addresses the future of Dreamers, limitations on legal immigration, new immigration enforcement measures and border security. This blog focuses on border security. CDT would welcome measured proposals to address border security challenges, but this legislation fails to deliver. As Congress goes back to the drawing board, legislators should avoid returning to the Secure Act or the Building America’s Trust Act for inspiration.

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As Device Searches at Border Grow, Courts Must Step in to Safeguard Constitutional Protections

On February 2, CDT filed an amicus brief in Alasaad v. Nielsen arguing that warrantless, suspicionless border searches of electronic devices such as laptops and cell phones violate the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution. Digital—we argue—is different, and the need to address these border searches is pressing because digital content is becoming far more prevalent.

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ICE Accesses Commercial License Plate Reader Database—We Want Access to ICE

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency recently issued a contract request for query-based access to a commercial license plate reader database. We filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with ICE seeking information on the contract, as well as any internal training materials, policy memos, and documents related to how ICE agents plan to use the commercial database and LPR data.

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The FBI’s “Black Identity Extremists” Report and the Surveillance Reform Debate

FISA Section 702 is nearing its expiration, and Congress should reform the law to protect Americans from warrantless surveillance. While the push to reform this law has emphasized the danger this poses to the rights of all Americans, FBI access to 702 data poses particular risk to journalists, immigrant communities, human rights activists, and civil rights activists who likely communicate frequently with foreigners. A recent FBI report on “Black Identity Extremists” (BIEs) suggests that black civil rights activists will be targeted for surveillance, which will include the FBI leveraging its access to Section 702 data.

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Location Data: The More They Know

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Carpenter v. United States on November 29th. Carpenter centers on whether law enforcement needs a warrant to access 127 days of historic cell-site location information (CSLI). The case is important because of the great quantity of demands for location information now being made by law enforcement, because the location information that is sought is very revealing, and because law enforcement often obtains such data without obtaining a warrant, which increases the likelihood that sensitive location information about innocent people is collected. CDT argued strenuously that the Supreme Court should require law enforcement to get a warrant before accessing CSLI in its amicus brief in Carpenter v. United States. We hope the Supreme Court will agree.

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Supreme Court Cases That Should Be Getting More Attention

In the midst of an exciting Supreme Court session, there are two significant cases awaiting a cert decision that have thus far generated surprisingly little media buzz considering the important questions they raise: Antonio Rios v. United States and Mohamed Osman Mohamud v. United States. Both present the Supreme Court an opportunity to resolve fraught privacy and civil liberties issues.

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Urgent Fix Needed: USA Liberty Act Needs To Better Focus Surveillance Under FISA 702

Last week, a bipartisan group of House Judiciary Committee members introduced the first bill to reform Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, H.R. 3989, also known as the USA Liberty Act. It contains many important provisions, including an end to the collection of communications to which the surveillance target is not even party. However, it fails to limit the scope of 702 surveillance and therefore permits the surveillance of people far removed from anti-terrorism goals its proponents cite. In fact, it authorizes surveillance of people engaged in harmless activity.

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DHS’s Misguided Social Media Retention Policy Jeopardizes Fundamental Freedoms

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an alarming notice that DHS would now retain social media information in Alien-Files (A-Files). A-Files are government records, generated in the immigration context, that include the records of an individual as they pass through the United States immigration process, and are retained by DHS for 100 years after the individual’s birthdate. This retention of social media information should not be brushed off as ‘business as usual’ for DHS. This policy, and its negative consequences for the free expression and privacy rights of both immigrants and U.S. citizens.

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