Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has made alterations in its techniques for monitoring undocumented immigrants who have been let into the country without physical detention. The Alternatives to Detention (ATD) initiative, launched in 2004, keeps track of individuals who are awaiting court proceedings utilizing GPS monitoring, phone apps, and other technological means. With the new Biden administration in place, ICE has started relying more on a phone app that only tracks the location of undocumented immigrants at specific intervals, while reducing their use of GPS monitoring, which provides constant or near-constant location tracking.
🚨 MUST READ
The Biden Admin Is Making It Easier For Illegal Immigrants To Roam The US Without Tracking Them. https://t.co/u3pub9kXr4
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) February 13, 2023
In the fiscal year 2019, ICE was following 55,918 illegal immigrants using GPS monitoring and 5,706 undocumented immigrants using SmartLink. In 2022, ICE tracked 257,454 illegal immigrants using SmartLINK and only 9,324 with GPS monitoring. Currently, SmartLINK costs taxpayers $268,885.44 a day, while GPS monitoring costs taxpayers $15,774.18 a day.
Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), views the change in tracking methods as a way for ICE to pacify anti-enforcement advocates. According to Vaughan, the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program is not a genuine enforcement program, but rather a set of social services for newly arrived undocumented migrants. She also argues that this program is a burden on taxpayers and undermines the stability of the immigration system.
An anonymous ICE agent, who cannot publicly speak on the matter due to a lack of authorization, also believes that the shift towards less stringent tracking methods is part of ICE’s efforts to placate anti-enforcement advocates. According to the agent, as humanitarian organizations have expressed concern about the harshness of GPS monitors for asylum seekers, ICE has decided to increase its use of the Smartlink app as a solution.
In a letter to Texas Republican Representative Pat Fallon on Wednesday, Tae Johnson, ICE Deputy Director, and Acting Director stated that the ATD program has demonstrated success in terms of compliance. However, former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott claims that this data only reflects the compliance of individuals during their initial hearing while enrolled in ATD and does not consider their attendance at subsequent court appearances or after they have been removed from the program. Scott asserts that this data is misleading at best and that only 6% of individuals who are ordered to be deported actually leave the country. He argues that full transparency throughout the process is necessary to accurately evaluate the success of ATD programs.
The changes in ICE’s tracking methods have sparked debates about the efficiency of these programs and their impact on taxpayers. It’s evident that ICE is trying to accommodate anti-enforcement supporters by relying more on less restrictive and costlier technology. Nevertheless, it remains uncertain whether this shift will lead to a decrease in the monitoring of undocumented immigrants released into the country or if it will simply result in a costly effort with no tangible outcomes.
The preceding article is a summary of an article that originally appeared on The Daily Caller