- The Biden administration continues to tout the success of a major Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program to track illegal immigrants released into the country, known as Alternatives to Detention (ATD), but they’re using “misleading” data to do so, according to experts who spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- ICE Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director Tae Johnson recently told Republican Texas Rep. Pat Fallon that more than 99% of ATD participants appear in court.
- “While I was at ICE, I looked for value in this program and tried to figure out how ATD can be used to advance ICE’s mission and I concluded that the program was not all that helpful. It was a large cost to the taxpayers with limited benefit,” former Chief of Staff at ICE under the Trump administration and now the Director of Investigations at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) Jon Feere told the DCNF.
The Biden administration continues to tout the success of a major Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program for tracking illegal immigrants released into the country, but experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the data is “misleading.”
ICE Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director Tae Johnson wrote to Republican Texas Rep. Pat Fallon on Feb. 8 that the agency’s Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program to track illegal immigrants released into the country using electronic monitors has a high rate of success, with more than 99% of participants showing up to court during the first three months of fiscal year 2023. However, former officials say the data doesn’t account for all court appearances that illegal immigrants are required to attend during the entirety of their immigration case adjudication process. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Northern Border Agents Were Asked To Deploy To Florida Due To Massive Illegal Migrant Surge)
“While I was at ICE, I looked for value in this program and tried to figure out how ATD can be used to advance ICE’s mission and I concluded that the program was not all that helpful. It was a large cost to the taxpayers with limited benefit,” former Chief of Staff at ICE under the Trump administration and now the Director of Investigations at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) Jon Feere told the DCNF.
The average amount of time an illegal immigrant is enrolled as an ATD participant is 380.7 days, according to ICE, while it takes an average of 1,621 days to complete asylum proceedings, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). In years past, absconsion rates, meaning those who fail to appear and court, for the entire case lifecycle of an illegal immigrant enrolled in ATD at one point or another told a different story from what ICE is now saying, according to an internal Trump-era ICE report Fox News obtained in April 2022.
“A fairly large amount of taxpayer dollars being spent on a program with questionable utility and the government itself struggles to report it accurately. Members of Congress would be wise to dig into the success claims of this program. If they did, they would very quickly conclude that detention is the only way to ensure that a foreign national shows up to their hearing. As we saw under the Trump administration, very large percentages, In fact, the overwhelming majority of aliens on ATD will abscond if given enough time,” Feere said.
Nearly 90% of ATD participants whose full court proceedings were tracked absconded and were considered “fugitive aliens believed to be living within the United States” and that the rates were increasing, according to the report.
“This data illustrate that alternatives to detention are not a replacement for detention and that continuing to release aliens prior to the conclusion of their immigration case will not be successful in creating compliance with the law,” the report said.
“I think it’s very misleading,” former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott recently told the DCNF. “If you follow the full lifecycle, it’s not working.”
“Only 6% of the people that are ordered deported at the end of the process actually leave the country. The main reason everybody shows up to the first hearing is so that they can get work authorization and they can get benefits in the United States because they basically just show the judge, ‘hey, the system is so backed up, It’s going to take years to finish this process. So how am I supposed to live here?’ They get work authorization, they live happily ever after. Even if they’re deported later, they don’t care because they’re not leaving, and no one’s looking for them,” Scott said.
ICE was also reporting incorrect data to the public about the number of participants enrolled in the program, according to documents previously obtained by the DCNF.
In one instance, ICE was underreporting the number of illegal immigrants enrolled in the ATD program without any tracking monitors by more than 18,000%, and, in another instance, the agency was misreporting the number of illegal immigrants tracked with GPS technology by roughly 600%.
ICE later corrected the errors and apologized for them.
ICE didn’t respond to a request for comment.
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