Experts say the system will make it impossible to track released migrants in the US

Some of the thousands of immigrants housed near the international bridge in Del Rio, Texas / Reuters

Joseph Simonson • September 15, 2022 5:00 a.m.

The Biden administration is spending nearly $80 million on a new surveillance system for illegal immigrants that prohibits the use of any GPS technology, a move that experts say will make it impossible to locate them after their release in the United States.

The system, according to government records reviewed by the Free Washington Beacon, is intended to track illegal immigrants via monthly telephone records. Migrants released inside the United States between the ages of 18 and 19 are eligible for the program. Any GPS monitoring that would give exact locations, such as ankle monitor tracking, is explicitly prohibited, according to the contract.

“That kind of thing is popular among the left. Sounds good but the reality is that people in these programs will probably never [deported]”said Ron Vitiello, former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Free tag. “There’s nothing at the end of these programs. If they don’t show up, it’s over. They’re fugitives now.”

The new program for illegal immigrants contradicts claims by the Biden administration that the federal government is investing in sophisticated surveillance programs for illegal immigrants during the worst border crisis in US history. When Republican lawmakers slammed the White House for reports in April that immigration authorities were providing cellphones to illegal immigrants upon their release into the United States, the White House defended the conduct, saying the phones helped the government monitor the whereabouts of illegal immigrants.

“We need to take steps to ensure that we know where the individuals are and that we can track and verify with them,” former White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

The contract was awarded to Acuity International last month. The first payment of just over $16 million of a potential $79.5 million was paid on September 1.

ICE says in its memo that the purpose of the program is to “promote compliance” among illegal immigrants. In addition to providing social workers for migrants, the contractor will also “develop and maintain a network of age-appropriate and culturally sensitive community resources”.

These resources include “trauma-informed care”. The contractor will also “help” illegal immigrants “with a support system during” deportation.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Caliburn International was renamed Acuity International in 2021, likely in part because of the criticism it faced from Democratic lawmakers during the Trump era. A Caliburn subsidiary, Comprehensive Health Services, Inc. operated a temporary shelter for migrant children who were unaccompanied or separated from their parents in 2018.

This subsidiary has become a subject of ire by Democrats such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.). In 2019, Warren sent a letter to then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar asking the Caliburn branch to no longer operate a for-profit migrant shelter, citing previous allegations of “overcrowding and poor conditions”.

Rather than place illegal immigrants in a detention center, those eligible for what the government calls an “Alternatives to Detention” (ATD) program can essentially roam the country before their court date. The vast majority of illegal immigrants released to the United States have qualified for ATD programs since 2020.

“The Alternatives to Detention program has already proven to be a costly failure, with thousands of foreigners disappearing from surveillance every year, and there is no reason to think it will be any different,” said the former Senior DHS Advisor and Director of Investigations at the Center for Immigration. Studies have told the Free tag. “The goal should be to quickly determine if these people have a valid case, and if not, to quickly deport them. Instead, DHS is developing a massive social services program that will benefit NGOs with no guarantee that any of these people will actually go home when ordered to do so.”

The Biden administration has significantly expanded ATD programs for illegal immigrants. Due to the large number of illegal immigrants entering the country, the Department of Homeland Security is increasingly relying on private contractors to operate call centers for illegal immigrants who report their location during a brief interview. monthly.

An internal ICE report on ATD programs, first obtained by Fox News, said there are approximately 1.6 million illegal immigrants with scheduled immigration hearings who are not in detention. . According to records, many of these illegal immigrants will not face an appearance in immigration court for five years.

Migrant encounters on the southern border exceeded two million for the fiscal year in August, a new record. The previous record was held by fiscal year 2021, which saw 1.94 million encounters.

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