For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture.org

Civil Liberties and Immigration Groups Call on Congress to Refuse Funding for Border Surveillance “Smart Wall”

Open letter signed by groups from across the political spectrum opposes Democrat’s proposal for increased surveillance tech at the border

WASHINGTON - At 11am EST, 26 civil liberties and immigration organizations released an open letter to Congress calling on negotiators not to provide additional funding for border surveillance technologies as part of the “grand compromise” deal around border security. The letter specifies which technologies we are most concerned about, like algorithmic risk-assessment, facial recognition, and biometrics.

The letter was organized by Fight for the Future and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and signers include leading immigration groups like RAICES, Mijente, right-leaning groups like Campaign for Liberty and the Constitutional Alliance, and major organizations like the ACLU, Daily Kos, Muslim Justice League, Demand Progress, 18 Million Rising, and Freedom of the Press Foundation.

On January 30 the House Democratic Conferees Proposal for Smart, Effective Border Security called for funding various invasive surveillance technologies that would intrude on the liberties of travelers, immigrants, and people who live near the border. Given that funding of border enforcement is already at a historic high, we do not believe that additional funding is needed to further fund border technology.

“The US government’s surveillance programs are already out of control, and pose a serious threat to human rights and free expression” said Evan Greer, a lead organizer of the campaign with Fight for the FutureShe continued: “Technologies that are deployed at the border to target travelers, journalists, and immigrant families inevitably end up in our major cities targeting low income communities, religious minorities, and political activists. Congress should be reviewing and limiting existing border surveillance programs, not providing additional funding for dangerous technologies that infringe on our basic rights.”

Erika Andiola, the Advocacy Chief for RAICESa leading immigrant legal rights group in Texas said: “The government separated thousands of children for purely political reasons, we cannot trust them to deploy ubiquitous surveillance technology that pose a serious threat to immigrant and civil rights. We’re calling on party leadership not to give 1 dollar to the manufactured crisis at the border because we’ve seen time and time again how technology has been used by State agencies to implement racist policies.”

Leading Democratic presidential hopefuls including Senators Booker, Harris and Warren have spoken out against algorithmic decision making within law enforcement, as has Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This open letter calls on them to join us and refuse to support the ‘smart’ wall.

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