Markey Leads Senators in Demanding Answers on Trump Executive Order That Strips Immigrants of Privacy Act Protections

Trump Executive Order removes safeguards protecting the personal information of students, foreign workers, “Dreamers” and could make it easier for ICE to share or obtain personal information on non-citizens

Washington (February 9, 2017) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) today sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inquiring about Section 14 of the President Donald Trump’s Executive Order entitled Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States. Section 14 reverses long-standing policy and removes protections enshrined in the Privacy Act of 1974 for immigrants who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, including students, asylum seekers, foreign workers, and “dreamers.” The Privacy Act governs federal government databases and how federal agencies are tasked with collecting, maintaining, and sharing individuals’ personal information.  The Act also allows individuals to request access to their own records and to make corrections to them. In their letter, the Senators request information on how DHS plans to use government databases for immigration enforcement and how newly unprotected individuals will be able to access their own records. The Senators also ask how DHS will ensure the privacy of citizens, both at home and abroad.

“These Privacy Act exclusions could have a devastating impact on immigrant communities, and would be inconsistent with the commitments made when the government collected much of this information,” write the Senators in the letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. “This provision recalls a disturbing moment in American history when the Census bureau provided the names and addresses of Japanese-Americans to the Treasury Secretary to assist in finding those who had avoided interment. We should not be looking to recreate this tragic moment in history, nor to discourage reporting of personal information to the government for legitimate purposes.”

A copy of the Senators’ letter can be found HERE.