Ice reached a new low: using utility bills to hunt undocumented immigrants | US immigration | The Guardian
Because the power of the government is so immense, the union of government might with surveillance capitalism should worry every single one of us. Facebook may want to know everything about your shopping and surfing habits, but perhaps the worst it can do to you individually is put you in a metaphorical “Facebook jail”. Governments, needless to say, can send you to a real prison. And, as it turns out, government agencies can also try to find you on the basis of a utility bill so as to deport you. Georgetown Law School’s Center on Privacy & Technology discovered the link between Clear and Ice, and as the Center’s Nina Wang told the Washington Post: “There needs to be a line drawn in defense of people’s basic dignity. And when the fear of deportation could endanger their ability to access these basic services, that line is being crossed.” The notion that Ice would force such a Faustian tradeoff – between having heat in your apartment and exposing yourself to deportation – is unconscionable.
Before anyone wants to argue that these immigrants brought the situation upon themselves, take a moment to consider that almost 70% of undocumented immigrant workers have frontline jobs considered essential to the US fight against Covid-19. About half of the farm workers in the US are undocumented, according to the US Department of Agriculture. It’s further estimated that one out of every 20 workers in agriculture, housing, food services and healthcare is undocumented. The fact is that undocumented workers are often the very people keeping all of us fed, warm and healthy during this terrible pandemic.
In recognition of this fact, Senator Alex Padilla, a Democrat from California, introduced his first bill last week, the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act. The bill offers “a fast, accessible, and secure path to citizenship, beginning with immediate adjustment of status to legal permanent resident”. While France has done something similar recently by fast-tracking citizenship for its frontline foreign workers, the US could do it better by recognizing the heroic labor that undocumented immigrants have contributed to the national effort to combat Covid.
More than 60 leading economists also recently wrote a group letter to the Biden administration arguing for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, especially undocumented essential workers. Providing these workers with the chance to earn citizenship, they wrote, “will help to ensure that the economic recovery reaches all corners of society, including those that have disproportionately been on the frontlines of the pandemic and yet left out of prior relief bills, and establishes a more stable and equitable foundation on which future economic success can be built”.