Surveillance, Tech & Immigration Policing

The Surveillance, Tech, & Immigration Policing Project has moved!
As of January 2023, we are an independent organization, the Surveillance Resistance Lab. Visit us and learn more here

We are excited to share that the Surveillance, Tech, & Immigration Policing Project has transitioned to an independent organization, the Surveillance Resistance Lab. After 11 years at IDP, Mizue Aizeki will transition to lead the Lab full-time. In the 6 years since Mizue started focusing on surveillance at IDP, her work on this issue has grown rapidly. In 2021, she founded the Surveillance, Tech, &Immigration Policing Project, focusing on cutting-edge issues including the rapid expansion of migrant control technology at the border (as well as internally and externally), the increasing role of tech corporations in undermining democracy and local governance, and the commodification of data through “smart city” programs. Alli Finn joined the project in January 2022 and will be transitioning with Mizue as the Lab’s Senior Researcher & Organizer.

The Surveillance, Tech, and Immigration Policing Project challenged the growing surveillance state by focusing on policing and migrant control, and tackled the rapidly expanding role of technology corporations in undermining local governance. This included research and campaigns on the rapid expansion of migrant control technology at the border and the commodification of data through “smart city” programs. The project supported organizing to build collective public knowledge and political infrastructure to end state violence and to grow a just digital future. 

  • STIP-Report-Graphic
    DHS Open for Business
    Our report, “DHS Open for Business: How Tech Corporations Bring the War on Terror to our Neighborhoods,” investigates how DHS funding and corporations drive demand for “homeland security,” expanding militarized policing in our communities. Through our research, we found that DHS fueled a massive influx of money into surveillance and policing in our cities, under a banner of emergency response and counterterrorism—and with the support of its corporate partners like Microsoft, LexisNexis, ShotSpotter, Palantir, and Motorola Solutions. 
  • Stopping ICE Policing & Migrant Control
    The Surveillance, Tech & Immigration Policing project grows out of IDP’s advocacy work to combat the police-to-deportation pipeline and ICE raids. Since 2013, IDP has monitored and researched the trends and tactics of ICE raids in New York, including ICE’s surveillance tactics and surge force programs such as Operation Palladium. ICE has also effectively made local policing an extension of the deportation police force. This includes automatic data sharing between police and DHS, and encouraging police and jails to turn people in local custody over to ICE. We use the information gathered from this monitoring of ICE tactics to help guide our community defense resources and trainings and to build campaigns such as ICE Out of Courts. We recognize that the policing of migrants extends well outside US territory, and work towards an alternative vision of safety and security, as in our report Smart Borders or a Humane World?
  • Cutting Off ICE’s Data and Technology Pipeline
    At its founding, ICE’s strategy identified the critical role that technology and data would play in maximizing the agency’s ability to identify and track people that it could deport. IDP has been a leader in the fight to end the police-to-deportation pipeline, including the campaign to end Secure Communities and the subsequent detainer policy campaigns. In 2018, IDP, along with Mijente and Just Futures Law (JFL), released Who’s Behind ICE: The Tech and Data Companies Fueling Deportation, which focuses on how tech companies are fueling immigration policing. We work to identify interventions to push back against corporate and government use of surveillance technologies and commodification of our personal data. We are part of the Ban the Scan campaign to outlaw government use of facial recognition technology in New York. We also partner with JFL’s COVID-19 FOIA Project, to ensure that a public health emergency is not misused to increase deportation and criminalization. See more here: factsheet on HHS Protect, a vast secretive database designed by Palantir and ICE FOIA records here.

    IDP has been working with Mijente, Just Futures Law, Law Students Against ICE, and Researchers Against Surveillance to call on Thomson Reuters and RELX (parent company to Lexis-Nexis) to end their contracts with ICE. Learn more about how Thomson-Reuters and RELX fuel ICE's deportation machine here.
  • Challenging Biometrics Collection and Control
    The Surveillance, Tech & Immigration Policing Project challenges ICE’s weaponization of biometrics as DHS continues to invest significant resources in identification and tracking technologies. For example, DHS is in the process of building one of the world’s largest biometric databases, the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) System, to increase its power to surveil and police people globally. See our report, in collaboration with Mijente and Just Futures Law, HART Attack: How DHS’ Massive Biometric System Will Supercharge Surveillance and Threaten Rights, and our report Smart Borders or Humane World?

    We are investigating DNA collection of people in DHS custody. If you have information on people who have been swabbed for DNA in connection with a DHS arrest, contact us [email protected]

    IDP is also part of a campaign to pass state legislation to ban rogue DNA databases ( Senate Bill 1347), curtailing reckless DNA collection that is happening most egregiously in New York City. See IDP's memo of support. Also see IDP’s comment opposing the proposed rule issued by the USCIS in September 2020.

    We submitted a 2021 report to the OHCHR’s Working Group on Business and Human Rights on the ways private companies fuel surveillance and migrant control.
  • Exposing Harms of Smart Cities & Digital IDs
    Since 2018, we have been fighting to protect the IDNYC (NYC’s secure municipal ID card) from becoming a digital ID, and maintain the card as is. Digital IDs seem convenient—an online ID or license on your phone—but in reality are massive systems and databases that track and store sensitive info about us and our actions. In addition to our local advocacy, we released a report, Smart-City Digital ID Projects: Reinforcing Inequality and Increasing Surveillance, to highlight the risks of smart-city technologies across the US and beyond. We are currently developing a toolkit and political education resources for advocates, impacted communities, and government representatives about the harms of digital IDs—and alternatives for just digital systems.
  • Another World is Necessary: Ending Perpetual Punishment
    As the migrant control system increasingly draws strength from the carceral system of mass punishment and mass incarceration—both materially and ideologically—IDP's Surveillance, Tech & Immigration Policing Project works to challenge the longstanding logics that fuel policing and mass incarceration and migrant control. We fight the idea that some people represent “a perpetual threat” and therefore are deserving of extremely punitive measures.

    Life Beyond Borders: Oral Histories shines light on a less visible but increasingly entrenched aspect of the carceral system—how deportation expands the reach of perpetual punishment, including the prison-to-deportation pipeline.

    “Smart Borders or a Humane World?” examines the rhetoric of “smart borders” and explores their ties to a broad regime of border policing and exclusion that greatly harms migrants and refugees. We argue that an approach centered on border and immigrant policing is fundamentally incompatible with the realization of a just and humane world.

    Cruel by Design: Voices of Resistance from Immigration Detention highlights the narratives of people who were held in ICE detention. The report makes clear that cruelty is not an aberration or an accident, but the goal of the detention system, which was built to inflict harm and break people’s spirits.
  • Community and Advocate Resources
    Check out our resources for advocates, impacted communities, and media here. This includes our reports, campaigns, community-facing political education and KYR resources, and upcoming and past events.
Contact us at [email protected]