Donald Trump used ‘sting rays’ to hunt immigrants. So does Joe Biden now.

When Milton Marin Caceres-Molina was arrested in New York for forgery – essentially alleging lying to the police about his name or date of birth – his fingerprints showed he had been deported to his hometown of El Salvador. in 2010.

But by the time authorities found out who Caceres-Molina was, he was gone.

Federal law enforcement officials have been trying to locate Caceres-Molina based on selfies he posted to Facebook. But when that attempt was unsuccessful, a US Marshal applied for a subpoena to allow controversial technology to be used to track down Caceres-Molina. Authorities wanted to use a cell phone tower simulator to locate the cell phone linked to his Facebook account.

They easily tracked down Caceres-Molina, and he was arrested soon after.

The Donald Trump administration has pioneered the use of these phone tower simulators—a spying tool commonly known as “Stingray” that tricks cell phones into connecting to fake cell towers to identify them. physical location of the phone — to hunt down those accused of low-level immigration offences. However, according to new court documents obtained by The Daily Beast, Joe Biden’s administration is pressuring the controversial tool.

Cell tower simulators have raised privacy concerns among civil liberties advocates. After all, Stingrays are a powerful tool in the hands of the federal government and have plenty of questionable uses, critics argue, especially in the absence of a warrant or in low-level criminal investigations.

Nathan Freed Wessler, vice president of technology, privacy and speech projects for the American Civil Liberties Union told The Daily Beast: “The mobile site emulator is an incredibly powerful and invasive surveillance technology. . “It’s a positive development that DHS is letting judges know what they’re doing and getting search warrants — they haven’t done this before.”

“But,” continued Freed Wessler, “if these devices are to be used under the constitutional system, they should be reserved for the most serious investigations with strict surveillance and restrictions.”

Detroit News report first known use of a mobile website simulation, used to locate and deport Rudy Carcamo-Carranza, a 23-year-old restaurant worker wanted on illegal re-entry charges after he was allegedly accused was involved in a car crash and fled the scene.

In 2019, according to a report from Univision, immigration officials use mobile site emulator again to locate and deport Valente Palacios Tellez, a Mexican immigrant charged with illegal re-entry after he returned to the U.S. from deportation and was arrested after an altercation outside a home. stores in New York City.

But little is known about other instances where immigration officials have used the devices.

In documents obtained by the ACLU through Freedom of Information Act 2017 lawsuit, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Policy states that immigration officials may only use the mobile website simulator in the context of a criminal case.

According to Freed Wessler, whether a given immigration violation is considered a criminal or civil offense is becoming increasingly arbitrary.

“They have said they are not using these for civil immigration enforcement. The problem is that over the past few decades, we’ve had an incredible criminalization of immigration law,” says Freed Wessler.

Although illegal re-entry is a crime, the federal government has used it to manage violations through civil immigration enforcement measures. But as immigration has become a more controversial political issue over the past few decades, prosecutors have increasingly chosen to charge immigrants with criminal offenses.

During the Obama administration, criminal prosecutions of Illegal entry and re-entry spike, rising again under the Trump administration”uncompromising“policy.

In two of the previously known cases involving a mobile simulator used for immigration enforcement, the suspects drew attention from federal law enforcement after relatively low charges at the state level.

In Caceres-Molina’s application for a phone address subpoena, federal law enforcement noted that he was wanted in his hometown of El Salvador on a aggravated murder charge, although the affidavit supported it. The criminal complaint filed against him made no mention of the allegation.

ICE’s policy for obtaining a mobile site emulator order, as outlined in documents obtained by the ACLU, does not restrict the use of the mobile site simulator to undocumented immigrants. additional charges, unrelated to immigration.

“If they can track this guy down solely on the basis of an arrest warrant for illegal re-entry, there’s nothing to compel them to do the same to anyone who could be charged with entry or re-entry. illegal,” said Freed Wessler. Donald Trump used ‘sting rays’ to hunt immigrants. So does Joe Biden now.


ClareFora is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. ClareFora joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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