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Federal agents have started using a counter-terrorism device to catch undocumented immigrants

Federal agents are using a secret cell phone tracking device designed for counter-terrorism to catch undocumented immigrants as part of President Trump's crackdown, The Detroit News has learned. "The cell-site simulator device, known as a Hailstorm or Stingray, tricks nearby phones into providing location data and can interrupt cellular service of all devices within the targeted location," the paper writes. "Federal investigators are required to obtain a judge's approval to use the device."

FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents used the device in March, for example, to catch 23-year-old Salvadoran restaurant worker Rudy Carcamo-Carranza near Detroit. Carcamo-Carranza had been twice deported and faces drunken driving allegations and a hit-and-run crash. The federal agents were apparently able to use the device with a federal search warrant affidavit.

"While the warrant does ensure a modicum of judicial oversight, it is troubling to see the government using invasive surveillance technology on the streets of America to grease the wheels of the Trump administration's deportation machine," said Nathan Wessler, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. "This is the first warrant I have seen specifically showing ICE's use of a cell-site simulator in an immigration enforcement operation."

ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls called the simulators "invaluable law enforcement tools that locate or identify mobile devices during active criminal investigations." The FBI has 194 such devices, and Homeland Security 124. Read more about the device and how it's being used at The Detroit News.