U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is considering a new immigration database that would allow local police departments and federal officials to share license plate information.
California residents likely will not have to worry about such a system showing up in our state, given the imminent arrival of the new TRUST Act — however, if it does, many people will wonder how the technologically-advanced system affects the immigration debate.
The license plate system has not been fully completed yet, though a California-based company helped create a trial system that endured a six-month trial run. The city of Dallas experimented with the technology, and it is their ICE office that is requesting this new system.
There is already a national database of license plates, compiled by the National Vehicle Location Service (a collaborative effort by law enforcement and car dealers). However, this complimentary license-plate recognition system would use cameras mounted on police vehicles and cameras already established on city streets to identify cars that have been placed on a “hot list.”
If a vehicle is on the list and a camera recognizes it, the authorities would be immediately notified of the vehicle’s position. This “hot list” would be modified to target cars that are associated with illegal immigrants.
There is some speculation that the move by ICE’s Dallas office could prompt other offices in a variety of states to take similar action. Considering the latest controversy about Secure Communities (which is based on the same premise as this license-plate recognition system — agencies sharing information), some offices may balk at implementing this camera system.
Source: CNN, “Officials: License plate photos could help catch illegal immigrants,” Gustavo Valdes, July 10, 2012