A U.S. senator says that for years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement secretly spied on wire transfers of more than $500 to or from California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico without probable cause or a warrant, the Los Angeles Times reports. A group of immigrants who say their remittances to family abroad were caught up in that massive warrantless dragnet is suing the government and the wire-transfer behemoth Western Union, which provided money transfer records. Among the allegations: Law enforcement officials bragged in a PowerPoint presentation that they had tracked "suspicious" money transfers from people with "Middle Eastern names" or "Middle Eastern/Arabic names."
ICE officials would not comment on pending litigation, but the agency said it had paused its requests for money-transfer records. Western Union has said that it handed over the records to comply with a court order. The new legal action stems from disclosures made by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who said ICE's Homeland Security Investigations officials briefed his staff in February on the program. According to Wyden, ICE used a type of administrative subpoena to obtain six million records about money transfers above $500 since 2019. Wyden supports targeted investigations into smugglers, but opposes dragnet-style sweeps, he told the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general.