Immigration Law

Immigration Officials Use Secretive Gang Databases to Deny Migrant Asylum Claims

Melissa del Bosque, ProPublica, July 8, 2019

"With scant public notice, federal immigration officials are relying on databases run by foreign police and militaries to check whether migrants crossing the United States border have gang affiliations, which would allow officials to detain and eventually deport them.

The information is being provided through a new “fusion” intelligence-gathering center in El Salvador that is funded by the State Department and works in tandem with the Department of Homeland Security.

But legal experts and human rights advocates say the government has kept the use of databases at the border largely secret, subverting potential challenges to the reliability of the information in them. An attorney in Texas recently discovered that her Salvadoran client had been falsely accused of being in the MS-13 gang based on intelligence from the center. The man was jailed in a maximum-security facility for violent criminals for six months, and his two children were taken away.

Government attorneys, pressed repeatedly in court to provide evidence, eventually dropped the allegation of gang membership against him without explanation."