SB 2269 would prevent the sharing of Illinois facial recognition data with ICE

Under Illinois state law, what they delicately refer to as “non-visa status individuals” are allowed to obtain a Temporary Visitor Driver's License. Applicants for this special class of driver's license are required to submit proof of Illinois residency for the prior 12 months and to provide a valid passport or consular identification card.

Public record requests by the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law recently revealed that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has used facial recognition search technology to comb through millions of driver’s license photos.

In a Chicago Tribune report on that revelation, Dave Druker, spokesman for the Illinois secretary of state’s office, asserted that over the preceding couple of years, Illinois received three or four requests from federal law enforcement agencies, including ICE, for information on residents’ legal status, and turned down every request.

Passed in 2008, the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) is a strict Illinois law requiring companies to receive affirmative consent from their customers before collecting ‘biometric markers’ such as fingerprints and facial recognition models. Thanks to its stiff damages provision, the BIPA has spawned many class action lawsuits; both Facebook and Google have faced lawsuits for alleged BIPA violations in their photo-tagging products.

However, the Biometric Information Privacy Act does not apply to state or local government organizations, including law enforcement agencies. The BIPA was therefore not a factor in handling the requests for information from ICE. Illinois legislators who have problems with enforcement of federal immigration law perceived a need to close that gap.

Legislation to forbid use of facial recognition data for immigration law enforcement

Illinois does not have a formal Department of Motor Vehicles; responsibilities usually associated with a state DMV are handled by the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State.

In October, Senator Martin A. Sandoval introduced legislation formally designated Senate Bill 2269, which would prohibit the Illinois Secretary of State from providing facial recognition search services or photographs obtained while issuing a driver's license to any governmental entity for the purpose of enforcing federal immigration laws.

That would most directly affect interactions with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

Senate Bill 2269 would accomplish that by amending the Illinois Identification Card Act and the Illinois Vehicle Code. Those acts respectively prevent the Illinois Secretary of State from disclosing identification card and driver's license facial recognition data or photographs to any person, organization or government body without the subject's consent.

The replacement of State Senator Martin Sandoval by Celina Villanueva

On November 27, the Illinois State Board of Elections announced that State Senator Martin Sandoval, the bill's sponsor, would resign his legislative seat effective January 1, 2020.

Sandoval’s Springfield office, his Cicero office and his home had been raided on September 24 by Federal agents seeking information on suspected cases of corruption or conflicts of interest. Federal agents had previously visited a company owned by a major Sandoval donor.

On January 1st, SB-2269's chief sponsor was changed to Sen. John J. Cullerton, then on January 20 it was changed to Sen. Don Harmon, and then on January 29 it was finally(?) changed to Sen. Celina Villanueva.

After Sandoval's resignation, his seat in the Illinois Senate was taken by the bill's new sponsor, Celina Villanueva, who is from South Lawndale in Chicago. Villanueva is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, from which she received a B.A in Latina/Latino Studies with minors in African-American Studies and Spanish.

While still a state Representative, Villanueva co-sponsored legislation called the Keep Illinois Families Together Act, the purpose of which was to prohibit Illinois law enforcement agencies from entering into Section 287(g) agreements with ICE. It also prohibited law enforcement officials from asking any arrested or detained person about their citizenship or immigration status, or their place of birth.

The “Keep Illinois Families Together Act” was signed into law by Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker on June 21, 2019.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not legal advice.