New reports put heat on Vermont DMV over disputed cooperation with ICE

The Vermont DMV is denying new reports by media that multiple states, including the Green Mountain State, are sharing data to help U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement catch illegal immigrants.

“Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have turned state driver’s license databases into a facial-recognition gold mine, scanning through millions of Americans’ photos without their knowledge or consent, newly released documents show,”  the Washington Post’s Drew Harwell reported Sunday.

The Daily Signal/Nolan Peterson

IMMIGRANTS: Vermont is not allowing the DMV to use facial recognition technology to catch illegal immigrants living in Vermont, but it was until 2017.

The New York Times ran a similar story.

Harwell cites Vermont as one of the few states doing this data sharing.

“The records also underscore the conflicts between the laws of some states and the federal push to find and deport undocumented immigrants,” Harwell writes. “Though Utah, Vermont, and Washington allow undocumented immigrants to obtain full driver’s licenses or more-limited permits known as driving privilege cards, ICE agents have run facial-recognition searches on those DMV databases.”

Amy Tatko, the public outreach manager for the Vermont DMV, said that the media reports are inaccurate, and that Vermont stopped sharing photos and other data from applications since Gov. Phil Scott took office, starting in 2017.

“The use of facial recognition software at VT DMV was discontinued in May 2017 at the direction of current Governor Phil Scott as soon as it was brought to his attention,” Tatko said in a statement sent to True North. “The directive has stood since that time after a legal review requested by the Governor confirmed his concerns. The software has not been used and therefore no information has been shared since May of 2017.”

But a story published by VPR in January included comments from migrant rights proponents that challenged the state’s position. In the article, Vermont ACLU lawyer Lia Ernst claimed that cooperation between the DMV has continued.

“What DMV has been sharing are photos, all the application materials, even going so far as to advise when people are coming in for appointments so that ICE come in and detain them there,” she told VPR.

The report also states that Migrant Justice sued ICE, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Vermont DMV, over alleged cooperation in identifying and detaining migrant farmworkers, including activists who work for the organization.

In response to the new claims, as well as the January VPR story, Tatko reiterated that the DMV has not shared any inappropriate data with ICE since 2017. In an email she listed four points of clarification in an email Monday: 

  1. There is no access to or operation of the facial recognition program.
  2. Federal agencies do not have access to the Vermont DMV photo database.
  3. Any inquiries from federal law enforcement are governed by Federal and State law as well as the Fair and Impartial Policing Policy, and therefore must be related to a criminal case requiring a case number. They cannot be related to only a civil immigration enforcement action.
  4. No outside entity can mine the DMV database for photos or run a photo against the database.

Also by phone, Tatko said that information is still accurate and “there has been no facial recognition software has been used since 2017.”

“Whatever comments you are seeing in other media reports, our position on this has not changed at all,” she said.

According to the Vermont DMV website, undocumented immigrants can obtain a driver’s privilege card but not a conventional driver’s license. Undocumented immigrants must provide proof of identity and date of birth, proof of Social Security number, and proof of Vermont residency and current residential address. Such immigrants may not operate a vehicle using a foreign-issued license.

However, comments on social media show that many commenters believe cooperation between ICE and the DMV continues.

And this tweet highlights the New York Times story.

Meanwhile, Vermont continues to be a center of activism when it comes to welcoming and accommodating illegal immigrants. Numerous towns and cities have joined the “sanctuary city” movement that lets illegals remain in the community free from scrutiny by local police.

Elsewhere in the country, states are finding that illegal aliens are listed on voter rolls in significant numbers, which could impact upcoming elections. In Texas, Secretary of State David Whitley stated that up to 95,000 illegals were on the voter rolls.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of The Daily Signal/Nolan Peterson

11 thoughts on “New reports put heat on Vermont DMV over disputed cooperation with ICE

  1. This is all about VOTES, POWER AND CONTROL OF THE GOVERNMENT and nothing else.

    Those illegal-entry, law-breaking drivers will be thankful for all the bennies they get for free, courtesy of the Dem/Progs, and SOCIALIST Bernie types.

    Each such illegal is costing the US at least $25,000 PER YEAR.

    If in jail, that would be $50,000 per year.

    • Better yet Deported,cost a plane or bus ticket,piece of mind priceless.

      Build the wall,end DACA and begin deportations,NOW.

  2. Wonder when free health care for these illegals will be put on the legislative agenda come January 2020.

  3. What the heck is going on, our State thinks it is fine to not follow the law regarding Federal immigration. Well what if our citizenry decided to not follow State law, I am sure we would all be prosecuted. You cannot pick and choose what laws we want to follow but it now seems we citizens have a choice how our State of Vermont is reacting. I for one do not want to pay State taxes anymore, we should all start there!

    • A violation of the 14 th. amendment by the state of Vermont,so as you suggest how long will it be till “We The People” of Vermont ignore the state as they ignore the federal government.

  4. They should be cooperating with ICE, as it’s the law and they are breaking the law. Since the
    illegals are already criminals they will have no problems do other criminal activity since demontards are intent on letting them. I for one am sick of having to follow stupid laws made by stupider flatlanders while Illegals are exempt from laws. It’s time to fire the 3 stooges and get people who WANT to fix immigration and green card and secure the boarder from the invaders.
    The worse part is they are illegitimatizing tax payers votes by voting illegally with the approval
    of the Anti American demontards.

  5. I cannot believe that Vermont’s Socialist Progressive Government would help any
    Government, especially ICE.

    But maybe will still have some in Montpelier that believes in the rule of law and are
    willing to help law enforcement.

    If you have ” Illegals ” trying to get a Drivers Licence for a Privilege alotted to it’s
    Citizens….. they should be worried they’re criminals !!

    Maybe our ” Three Stooges ” in Washington can work on” Immigration ” and the
    disaster at the Southern Border, instead of worrying about the President.

    But we all know ” Socialist Sanders ” thinks he going to be President, so he’s not
    doing much for Vermont or it’s farmers, he’ll be back just like a lost uncle that’s
    hanging around and doing nothing…….Useless fits better.

  6. Do these people have a problem being REAL Americans? Scott is nothing more than a sop for the socialists….he’s THAT desperate to stay in power.

    • Gov. Benedict Scott is running in the incorrect party as the rock solid RINO he is he should just get it over with and declare himself Totalitarian Left.

  7. So the illegal invaders who are criminally in the country get more support to break US and state law but a citizen with inalienable rights can’t even use his/hers.. All we are allowing is for the invaders to see laws are not meant for them and they will garner the system to use their new found freedom of law. The leftarded and rino factions are doing more harm to the Constitutional Republic then the Russians ever thought of doing. Talk about voter disfranchise the enablers of lawlessness are not only promoting it they are helping with the documentation. If we have to follow the law so do the invaders who should be catapulted back to the hole they came from.

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