Republicans Rip Biden Admin Use Of ICE Program That ‘Failed’ To Properly Monitor Illegal Immigrants

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Jason Hopkins Immigration Reporter
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A group of House Republicans is asking federal authorities for answers on a program meant to monitor illegal immigrants throughout the U.S., arguing it has failed to properly track enrollees and has essentially become a “social services scheme.”

Republican Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, along with 15 other House Republicans, sent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Executive Associate Director Daniel Bible a list of questions on how the agency is managing the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program in a Friday letter. The lawmakers asked for details on the number of available ICE detention beds, the rate of enrollees showing up to their removal proceedings and information on how these enrollees are supervised, among other questions. (RELATED: ICE Points To Biden Admin Policy As Reason Illegal Immigrant Accused Of Murdering Teen Was Out Free)

“We write today to express our concerns about the implementation of the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program. As you know, the ATD program was created in 2004 to monitor aliens on the non-detained docket (NDD) while they await the results of their pending immigration proceedings,” the lawmakers wrote. “However, today’s version of the ATD program has been expanded into a social services scheme, has failed to adequately monitor ATD enrollees, and has ultimately been an ineffective way to handle the unprecedented number of individuals on the [non-detained docket].”

The ATD program allows asylum seekers to move freely in the country in lieu of physical detention while they await their immigration court dates by using GPS monitoring, phone applications or other forms of tracking services to remain aware of their whereabouts.

The Republicans took particular umbrage with ICE’s management of the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP), the largest ATD program regarding enrolled immigrants and budget.

“For instance, we question whether it’s appropriate to let aliens roam the United States of America without consistently monitoring the specific movements of such individuals,” the letter read. “We also are concerned with the Case Management Pilot Program (CMPP) and the Young Adult Case Management Program (YACMP)—specifically how these methods have incentivized absconsion, diluted alien accountability, and transformed the ATD program into a social welfare system.”

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 12: Rep.-elect Byron Donalds (R-FL) arrives to the Hyatt Regency hotel on Capitol Hill on November 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Orientation begins for the newly-elected members today and will run through Nov. 21. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

The Republicans argued that U.S. tax dollars should not be paying for social services for non-citizens, but should instead be used for completing the border wall, maximizing the use of detention facilities and supporting federal immigration authorities, according to the letter.

“GPS monitoring significantly increases the likelihood that illegal aliens will comply with their immigration proceedings,” RJ Hauman, president of the National Immigration Center for Enforcement, told the DCNF. “Those enrolled under ISAP — the proper form of ATD — have a 98.6% compliance rate for attending immigration hearings and are easier to locate if they abscond.”

“Unfortunately, the Biden administration has failed to use the program efficiently or correctly, instead acting upon the wishes of ‘Abolish ICE’ groups who not only oppose custodial detention but call any monitoring of illegal immigrants a ‘digital prison,'” Hauman continued. “This explains why use of ISAP has decreased significantly, even as the non-detained docket approaches 7 million.”

Donalds also introduced the “Reshape Alternatives to Detention Act” on Thursday, which calls for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to utilize all detention space available for migrants arriving from the southern border and to maintain GPS monitoring of those migrants who are not being physically detained.

Mohammad Kharwin, an Afghan national who illegally entered the country, had been taken off the ISAP program almost immediately and allowed to roam free in the U.S. for nearly a year before being apprehended. The ATD program was also found to be more frequently using methods that were less adept at tracking enrollees.

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