Republicans in the House of Representatives, led by Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, will introduce a bill later Thursday that would end a program providing cell phones to illegal immigrants.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Alternatives to Detention program is intended to allow the federal government to electronically surveil illegal immigrants who are awaiting deportation proceedings. Most participants in the program are given an ankle monitor or cell phone with a GPS tracking app. The program has faced criticism from both the left and the right in recent years, with liberal groups arguing that it violates the privacy of illegal immigrants, and conservatives arguing that it allows illegal immigrants to escape detection.
The No More Phones Act prohibits the “use [of[ American taxpayer funding to provide cellular devices to individuals who cross the southern border illegally” and would require Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to issue a report detailing the number of cell phones distributed and whether or not they were returned when illegal immigrants appeared at deportation proceedings. The bill has eleven co-sponsors.
“Under the guise of President Biden’s so-called ‘leadership,’ this administration has excessively wasted taxpayer funds by routinely providing cell phones to illegal immigrants—which are more than likely to be disposed of at a later date to avoid government detection,” Donalds told the Daily Caller in a statement.
“Having been to the border three times, I’ve seen first-hand the distribution of taxpayer-funded cell phones to individuals that purposely sidestep our legal immigration system—that’s why I’ve introduced the No More Phones Act. In defense of law and order, the American taxpayer, and the sanctity of our constitutional republic, I’m grateful to my colleagues for supporting this common-sense legislation that seeks to combat wasteful spending while simultaneously condemning Joe Biden’s open-border catastrophe.”
Read the bill here:
Large numbers of illegal immigrants who participate in the Alternatives to Detention program do not appear for deportation proceedings, according to federal officials. Trump administration immigration official Matthew Albence testified to Congress in 2018 that 28% of families in the program do not appear for deportation hearings, despite the fact that it is intended for individuals who are considered more likely to comply with immigration law.
Customs and Border Protection encountered more than two million migrants in 2021, a record high. More than 225,000 migrants are currently monitored under the Alternatives to Detention program, according to Syracuse University. (RELATED: ICE Officials Made The Lowest Number Of Arrests In At Least A Decade: REPORT)
The White House has defended the program, with Press Secretary Jen Psaki claiming that the “vast, vast majority of people” in the program appear for deportation proceedings.
“Smartlink, which is another option, enables participant monitoring via smartphone or tablet using facial matching technology to establish identity,” she said during her April 6 press briefing.
“Our concern is ensuring that individuals who irregularly migrate to the United States proceed through our process of, you know, of course, being monitored, but also participating in hearings to determine whether or not they will be able to stay.”