Fidencio Garcia, a young gardener from Chula Vista, says it is scary to think that the U.S. government has obtained his personal information when he has sent money to his relatives in southern Mexico.
"With how the pandemic has been, I have had to send them a little more because my sister lost her job, and my parents could not go out because they could get Covid. There is no doctor nearby, "he said.
Fidencio told Chula Vista Today that it would be a big problem for his family, who still haven't fully got their jobs back if ICE used the information he provided in the remittances to locate and detain him.
"I never thought that could happen, but yeah, it's scary to think about," he said.
Since at least 2019, the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has monitored money transfers abroad, "remittances," a method with which hundreds of thousands of immigrants help their families abroad.
This surveillance was in the leading companies that make cash transfers to relatives in Mexico and other Latin American countries.
The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Ron Wyden, revealed that secret ICE plan and now questions whether it is an illegal project.
"I have confirmed that (the Department of) Homeland Security was conducting a massive surveillance program of Americans' financial records," the senator wrote on Twitter. "I am calling for a full investigation into how ICE got the green light to begin this massive collection of personal data on Americans."
The senator sent a letter to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), an internal affairs division of HSD, to find out about the program.
In that letter, the senator informed the OIG that Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents, which reports to ICE, gathered information on millions of money transfers over $500.
The agents focused on transfers or remittances from the four border states with Mexico, California, Arizona, and Texas.
According to the senator, surveillance has been since 2019.
Last month, the Bank of Mexico reported that remittances to Mexico throughout 2021 reached an unprecedented rate of $51,594 million.
That amount increases 27.1 percent, compared to the previous year, when a new index was already reached.
Only last December, remittances grew to 4,760 million dollars, 30.4 percent more than in the same month of 2020, which has an impact on the local economy.
In both years, Mexicans in the United States sent more economic aid to their relatives in Mexico in the context of the pandemic.