An anti-terrorism device is being used to find undocumented immigrants through their cell phones

FBI and ICE agents used cell phones to find an undocumented immigrant in Detroit

By Matthew Rozsa

Published May 19, 2017 12:36PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Bryan Cox)
(Getty/Bryan Cox)

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has already attracted controversy for the harsh new methods it has employed to round up undocumented immigrants since President Donald Trump became president. These included seeking domestic abuse victims and individuals in hypothermia shelters and even removing a brain tumor patient from a hospital.

Now we can add spying on them with a device designed to monitor terrorists' cell phones.

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An unsealed federal search warrant affidavit reveals that federal investigators have used a cell-site simulator device known as a Hailstorm or Stingray to seek out undocumented immigrants, according to a report by The Detroit News. The machine tricks cell phones within its vicinity into giving it their location data and is capable of interrupting the service of all the cell phones within the location they select. They cannot be used without a judge's prior approval.

The News reported that a Stingray was used by a team of ICE agents and FBI agents to locate a 23-year-old, twice-deported restaurant worker from El Salvador named Rudy Carcamo-Carranza. He had no prior violent record but had been involved with the law due to allegation that he had driven while intoxicated as well as a hit-and-run automobile crash.

In an email to The News, ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls defended using Stingrays.

"ICE officers and special agents use a broad range of lawful investigative techniques in the apprehension of criminal suspects. Cell-site simulators are invaluable law enforcement tools that locate or identify mobile devices during active criminal investigations," Walls said.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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