Ron Wyden is demanding an investigation after finding out Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has secretly surveilled and collected records on 200 million American money transfers without obtaining a warrant for at least the last 12 years.
The Oregon Democratic senator’s office first learned about the program last month, and Wyden claimed in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) inspector general that it was the first time Congress was made aware of the program’s existence, the Wall Street Journal reported after reviewing the letter.
The DHS law-enforcement arm was collecting information on domestic and international transfers exceeding $500 to or from Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas – as well as money transfers of that amount going to or from Mexico from anywhere within the U.S.
In general, yes, it would be concerning for any government agency to track the movements and transactions Americans make, in this case, the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring potential drug and human trafficking money in and out of the border states.
And a Democrat finds this to be a problem.
“Given the many serious issues raised by this troubling program, I request that you investigate the program’s origins, how the program operated, and whether the program was consistent with agency policy, statutory law, and the Constitution,” Senator Wyden wrote to DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari.
“I cannot think of another arrangement like this that combines an illegal use of subpoenas with an inscrutable, private nonprofit just for the purposes of housing this information,” American Civil Liberties Union Senior Staff Attorney Nathan Freed Wessler told the Journal.
He claimed since these entities are not subject to government public records laws, it “has the effect of shielding this tremendously concerning program from public scrutiny.”
“Our office uses TRAC, a federally-funded program to legally monitor international wire cash transfers from border states to Mexico,” spokeswoman Katie Conner for Arizona’s Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement.