Feds spent $131.8 million on technology so foreigners could self-report to immigration hearings

More than 3.3 million individuals have been released into country to the non-detained docket.

Published: October 13, 2022 10:33am

Updated: October 13, 2022 11:53pm

(The Center Square) -

According to a new report published by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about its Alternatives to Detention Program (ATD), the agency spent $361,218 a day on three kinds of technology to monitor those it released into the U.S., or $131,844,570 a year.

The report states it spent $112,257.80 a day on GPS monitoring using satellites to track the location of foreign nationals released into the U.S. to ensure they were complying with the conditions of their release.

It spent $245,377.92 a day on 255,602 SmartLINK phones with an app for individuals to use facial recognition “to report compliance with the conditions of their release.”

It also spent $3,582.36 a day on 19,902 VoiceID telephonic reporting. This system compares phone calls made by the individuals against their voiceprint obtained during enrollment into the program.

According to the report, the agency’s Intensive Supervision Appearance Program uses modern technology and case management to “closely monitor” a small segment of cases assigned to its non-detained docket. “As of August 2020, there are over 3.3 million individuals assigned to the non-detained docket, many with pending cases before the immigration courts. ICE has resources to monitor approximately 5 percent of the total non-detained population, or approximately 100,000 undocumented individuals,” the report states.

Assuming those released still have the phones they were given to comply with the program, and the phones are on and still working, the agency says it can track the location of the phone. The same is true with GPS monitoring devices, assuming the devices are worn by individuals every day for years until their court hearing.

In the first quarter of fiscal 2021, ICE says that 26,000 participants complied through SmartLINK, 28,000 complied through GPS monitoring and 32,000 complied through telephonic reporting.

No compliance data for fiscal 2022 has been made available yet.

The ATD program was created under DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as part of a sweeping overhaul of ICE enforcement and compliance processes. Multiple attorneys general have sued Mayorkas over the department’s catch and release policy, arguing his decision to change immigration enforcement processes established by Congress is unconstitutional and outside the scope of his authority.

The ATD is “another example of Biden’s administrative state to work around the laws of Congress to get as many illegal aliens into the country as possible. The goal is to create chaos to undermine our freedoms, build up a population in the next census and register as many people to vote as Democrats, and ultimately undermine the rule of law,” international law expert Jonathan Hullihan told The Center Square.

“The Biden administration replaced the actual parole and removal proceedings by creating an extrajudicial system outside of the intent of the law (Title 8) established by Congress,” he said.

Hullihan also said that “Congress needs to reestablish its authority under the naturalization clause of the Constitution and limit the executive branch from exceeding its authority.”

Mayorkas has argued that the new policies are more humane than the previous administrations’ and ensure a “safe, orderly” process to allow people to enter the U.S. while they wait for their immigration claims to be adjudicated.

The legal process for paroling individuals has been used on a case-by-case basis. Under the Biden administration, people from over 150 countries are being paroled en masse through the ATD program.

According to a 2020 Congressional Research Service report, paroling foreign nationals “who may not otherwise be admissible to the country under the immigration laws” allows them to stay in the U.S. temporarily “without being formally admitted to the country and without having a set pathway to a permanent immigration status.” They also don’t have to provide Border Patrol or ICE agents with evidence of credible fear for asylum when they make their claim and are permitted entry, assuming they pass a federal criminal background check.

Tom Holman, former acting director of ICE in the Trump administration, told The Center Square the reason the Biden administration is releasing “illegal aliens into the U.S. is because they don’t want them removed.”

DHS data shows that 90% of those entering the U.S. illegally who are held in detention are removed, he points out. The opposite is true for those who aren’t held in detention.

“Just because someone is released into the U.S. doesn’t mean they are legal. They still entered the U.S. illegally. They still have no legal status. They are in limbo until their case is adjudicated – and that’s if they show up to their hearing,” Holman said.

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