DHS gives cellphones to illegal border commuters: White House


The White House confirmed on Wednesday that the administration is giving cellphones to illegal commuters before releasing them to the United States.

As part of an Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) distributes cell phones and ankle monitors intended to track people who have crossed the border to ensure that ‘they are showing up on their scheduled court dates,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed during an April 6 press briefing.

PSAKI said Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) takes a biometric voiceprint of an illegal cross-border commuter before issuing them a phone and releasing them to the United States. She said the federal government is then able to confirm an individual’s voice during a recording call or track the individual using GPS or face-matching technology with a smartphone. or a tablet. She said some are also tracked via an anklet.

The majority of illegal commuters are released into the United States with a court date that can take years. Single men are the main population still deported.

Most single women and those with families are released with a cellphone which is used as an alternative to ankle monitors to track their whereabouts, according to an ICE officer who asked to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions .

Each week, the cell phone sends an alert to the illegal immigrant, who must then take an “immigration selfie” that marks their location, the ICE agent told The Epoch Times.

Colorado-based company Embedded BI tracks locations to ensure they are within 75 miles of the person’s registered address.

The ATD program is intended to ensure that the illegal immigrant shows up for their hearings in immigration court without having to be detained in the meantime. However, previous data on ATD programs for illegal immigrants show that many of them flee at some point during their legal proceedings, or afterwards if the outcome of their case is deportation.

PSAKI said Wednesday that nearly 80% of illegal aliens released at the border from DHS custody under prosecutor’s discretion have either received a first appearance notice or are still within their 60-day window to appear. .

“So, in fact, the vast, vast majority of people appear partly [because] we have these monitoring systems to do it effectively,” Psaki said.

In the event an illegal immigrant fails to submit their photo or is outside the 75-mile range, the officer said the individual “may” be excluded from the program, although such a decision has been rare.

“The supervisor might decide to…send them a letter telling them to come into the [ICE] office—who [we] basically call it a ‘race letter’ because nobody’s coming,” the agent said.

“Is someone going to get them?” No. Maybe if in a few years they’re stopped and we get a notification, and whatever priorities we have at that time, if they’re low priority, nothing happens.

The Biden administration has reduced its application priorities for illegal immigrants residing in the United States, protecting most from deportation, including those who have been removed by an immigration judge.

“If it’s a serious enough crime, then once they’re convicted, we’ll go after it,” the ICE officer said.

“But if you’re a woman, you don’t have a criminal history and you have children, especially if you have a child born in the United States, the chances of us trying to find you – one in 100,000.”

After two months, ICE has not provided The Epoch Times with statistics on the number of illegal immigrants attached to ATD programs and the number of people who have fled. BI Incorporated declined to provide the number of cellphones the company issued for Customs and Border Protection or ICE.

In 2021, many Border Patrol facilities have become so overwhelmed that thousands of illegal immigrants have been released with a report notice; an honor system that requires the person to register at their nearest ICE facility within 60 days.

Under normal circumstances, an illegal alien released in the United States would receive a Notice to Appear indicating a date and time to appear in court.

“For people who have just been released with a notification to report to ICE or to report to court, our ability to follow those people very closely is much more limited,” the acting director of the agency said. ‘ICE, Tae Johnson, in Congress during a hearing in May. 13, 2021.

In November 2021, ICE sent 78,000 notices to appear to illegal immigrants who were previously released, including documents advising them that their case will be dealt with through deportation proceedings and directing them to report to the nearest ICE office.

For those placed in an ATD program from October 2020 to March 2021, about 2,700 fled, Johnson said. In fiscal 2020, about 11,000 people fled the program, he said.

As of December 2019, the number of illegal aliens on ICE file not held exceeded 3.2 million, according to ICE Acting Director Matthew Albence.

The detention case is more expensive in the short term, but ultimately more cost-effective and efficient because illegal aliens ordered deported by an immigration judge are quickly deported, Albence said at the time. .

Albence said family units ran away from the ATD program at a rate of nearly 27%, more than double the run-out rate of 12.3% for participants in non-family units.

He said that for $200 million, ICE cuts about 3,000 people a year under the ATD program, or about 1% of the total cuts. He said if that money was instead used to detain foreigners during their trials, “I could probably take out about 10 times that.”

Border Patrol agents and local officials along the border prepare for a even greater influx immigrants as the Biden administration prepares to drop the Title 42 public health provision on May 23.

Title 42 is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order that was invoked in March 2020 under President Donald Trump to minimize the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring that only essential travel takes place at US borders. .

To follow

Nick Ciolino covers the White House.

Charlotte Cuthbertson

To follow

Charlotte Cuthbertson is a senior reporter at The Epoch Times, which primarily covers border security and the opioid crisis.


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