Report: ICE lost track of huge numbers of illegals monitored by electronic devices only

 January 1, 2023

As the crisis at the southern border shows no signs of abating, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under the Biden administration has been forced to acknowledge that it has “no records” on several hundred thousand illegal immigrants sent into the country's interior monitored only by electronic devices, as the Daily Caller News Foundation reports.

The alarming scenario was revealed in a Dec. 22 response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).

Startling revelations

As the Daily Caller noted, TRAC sought information pertaining to the number of migrants currently registered in the ICE “Alternatives to Detention” (ATD) program, which utilizes electronic monitoring devices to track migrants released into the United States following apprehension.

According to the agency's website, the ATD program makes use of three different kinds of technological tools to ensure compliance with conditions of release, including Global Positioning System (GPS) monitoring, telephonic reporting, and SmartLINK – as system incorporating facial matching capabilities to keep tabs on participants.

The program was initiated back in 2004 and was designed to keep track of illegals sent into the interior of the United States and to help alleviate the problem of limited detention space for arrivals who were awaiting adjudication in immigration courts already suffering from backlogs.

The request from TRAC sought data that spanned the period from the start of the 2019 fiscal year through August of this year.

In a jarring admission, ICE responded to TRAC by indicating that it had “no records” of a staggering 377,980 individual illegal immigrants supposedly enrolled in the ATD scheme, the Daily Caller further noted.

Accountability needed

Austin Kocher, a TRAC assistant professor involved in the request expressed alarm at the discovery and asserted that real reform is necessary if credibility in agency-released statistics is to be restored.

“ICE's response that they could no longer find records on immigrants in Alternatives to Detention (ATD) that they had previously released came as a shock, particularly after they informed us recently that they had been misleading the public for several months by releasing extremely inaccurate ATD data,” Kocher said.

“The agency really needs to come clean. The American public deserves to have accurate data about the ATD program,” he added.

Lingering distrust

As the Daily Caller pointed out, this latest outrage is just the latest instance in which the ATD figures have been erroneously – or perhaps intentionally misleadingly – reported by ICE.

Just recently, the outlet publicized a series of errors and omissions in ATD reporting on the category of illegal immigrants that were not electronically tracked and those for whom GPS technology was being used.

ICE had reportedly provided different sets of data to attendees at a private function that constituted a more than 18,000% difference with publicly disclosed statistics on the former and a 600% discrepancy with regard to public figures on the latter group.

Though the agency ultimately apologized and made public corrections, TRAC aptly declared back in September, “These sloppy, uncorrected errors – more of the norm rather than the exception – demand immediate attention from both the public and from Congress,” but whether lawmakers will indeed take steps to remedy the situation, only time will tell.

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