Thousands of immigrants seeking protection in the U.S. accidentally disclosed

CTN News

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, reports the Los Angeles Times, accidentally posted on its website the names, dates of birth, nationalities and places of detention of more than 6,000 immigrants who claimed to be fleeing torture and persecution.

The accidental release of unprecedented data could leave the immigrants vulnerable to retaliation from the very individuals, gangs and governments they fled, said lawyers for those who sought protection in the United States.

According to the U.S. newspaper, the personal information of people seeking asylum and other protections is supposed to remain confidential; a federal regulation generally prohibits its disclosure without the approval of senior Department of Homeland Security officials.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says it is investigating the incident and will notify affected immigrants of the release of their information. The agency continues that it will not deport immigrants whose information was posted in error until it is determined whether the disclosure affects their case, writes Los Angeles Times.

Those who may have downloaded the immigrant information will be notified to delete it, according to the newspaper, which reports that ICE officials are concerned about the posting of the data – which included information about migrants who sought to avoid deportation to countries such as Iran, Russia and China – and are working to quickly resolve the issue, an agency official said.

The agency mistakenly published the data, which included the immigrants’ names, case status, detention locations and other information, during a routine update to its website that likely went wrong.

The U.S. newspaper further notes that the immigrant advocacy group Human Rights First notified ICE officials of the data breach on Monday, and soon after, the agency took steps to remove the data from its website. The file was on a page where ICE regularly posts detention statistics.

Five hours passed after the information was released. That’s when officials took swift action to remove it after being informed that it had been published.

“While unintentional, this disclosure of information is a violation of agency policy, which is investigating the incident and taking all necessary corrective actions,” an ICE spokesperson said in a statement. The disclosure is “embarrassing” and potentially dangerous to those involved, said another

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