Alternatives to Detention Program Gives Some Illegal Migrants Smartphone Monitoring Devices and Lets Them Loose in The US


Federal programs to monitor “non-detained” migrants provided expensive technology to those who were suspected of breaking immigration laws. They could then roam the country while their cases were pending, according to new data.

According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, Immigration and Customs Enforcement have enrolled “non-detained” migrants in a program called “Alternatives to Detention.” ICE states that it takes into account immigration status, criminal history, and compliance history when determining who is eligible for ATD. ATD recipients are issued a technology device and are then allowed to enter the country while their cases progress.

ICE provides smartphones containing GPS monitoring software and facial recognition to some or all ATD enrollees. ATD migrants are also required to take part in a “telephonic report,” which compares the voice on the call with a voiceprint that was obtained when the person was enrolled. TRAC claims that at least some migrants have an ankle bracelet.

Although ATD was originally established under the George W. Bush administration in 2004, it has seen a surge under Biden. Biden signed a 100-day suspension on deportations. He also limited arrests to migrants who might pose a threat to national security or safety.

Illegal immigration has increased dramatically as a result. Border Patrol reported in September that there had been a record number of encounters for the fiscal year 2022. There is still one month to go. Only a small fraction of those 2.1 million have been enrolled in ATD and even fewer remain in ATD until their cases are resolved completely.

On September 24, just under 317,000 noncitizens “non-detained” were enrolled in ATD. This is a 266% increase from the 92,000 figure at Biden’s inauguration.

Each year, ICE receives approximately $2.2 billion to support ATD and all associated technology. This investment has not always yielded dividends. According to Daily Caller, in June, the Government Accountability Office acknowledged that the majority of ATD enrollees are removed before their cases are concluded. A quarter of those who were transferred into ATD alternatives eventually fled.


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