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How ICE Uses Secret Police Databases to Arrest Immigrants

August 28, 2017 (1 min read)

Christie Thompson, Marshall Project, Aug. 28, 2017 - "In 2011, then 19-year-old Luis Vicente Pedrote-Salinas was leaving a relative’s house and getting into his car when he was stopped by Chicago police. Officers found an unopened can of beer in the cupholder and booked him for underage drinking. He spent a night in jail, and the charges were dropped.

But that wasn’t the end of it: The police who arrested Pedrote-Salinas were out on a “gang suppression mission” that night and added his name to their citywide database of suspected gang members. Officers said he admitted to being a member of the Latin Kings; he claims they lied and that he’s never been a member of any gang.

According to a federal lawsuit filed in July, Pedrote-Salinas was arrested later in 2011 during an immigration raid targeting gangs and was detained for roughly six months. When he was released on bond, he applied for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and, after being robbed at gunpoint while working at a Subway, a U visa for crime victims, in order to remain in the U.S. He was denied both despite having no criminal convictions. Now Pedrote-Salinas faces deportation to Mexico, which he left when he was five years old.

Immigrants’ advocates and attorneys say that more cases like Pedrote-Salinas’ are likely to emerge under the Trump administration, which has vowed to aggressively track down immigrants in gangs. Local police departments have long shared their gang intelligence with federal immigration authorities. But the feds may be using that information more now as Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests have increased nearly 40 percent from last year. Critics of gang databases say that because of the loose criteria used to identify potential members, people with no gang affiliation are likely to be swept up in raids meant for serious criminals. Several recent lawsuits have been filed by immigrants who say they were wrongly identified as gang members and detained by ICE as a result."