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ICE has access to local police databases, including Northampton

A new report reveals how sanctuary cities share data with federal law enforcement

Will Meyer

A new investigative report from In Justice Today details how ICE and Homeland Security Investigations are able to access a database used by local police forces called COP LINK. The report, based on documents obtained by Kade Crockford of the ACLU of Massachusetts, makes the point that many sanctuary cities, specifically in Massachusetts, hand data directly over to ICE through high-tech law enforcement tools.

Northampton is no exception. In an email to The Shoestring, police chief Jody Kasper confirmed that NPD uses COP LINK. Springfield and Chicopee also use the program, though they are not sanctuary cities.

In Justice Today reporter George Joseph described how the software works, saying, “The software ingests local police databases, allowing users to map out people’s social networks and browse data that could include their countries of origin, license plate numbers, home addresses, alleged gang membership records, and more.”

The article does get into why arbitrary “gang membership” is problematic at best, not to mention racist. But the crux of Joseph’s findings are that ICE and Homeland Security can access this information easily, and often do to bolster their deportation efforts.

Joseph quotes Maddie Thomson, an immigration attorney at Boston’s Community Law Office, who speaks to why ICE being able to access this database fundamentally undermines the idea of a sanctuary city. “The fact that police are sharing information [with ICE] clearly violates the spirit of the sanctuary idea,” Thomson told In Justice Today, referring to COP LINK. “So it’s very easy for cities to get liberal cred, while also participating in these systems and actively helping to deport people.”

The Shoestring reached out to Mayor Narkewicz twice. He didn’t respond before press time.
Read Joseph’s piece here. The above picture is the cover photo on ICE’s FB page.

Will Meyer is co-editor of The Shoestring.

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