Leaked ICE Document Shows Migrant 'Alternatives to Detention' Program Doesn't Work And Costs A Lot

Leaked ICE Document Shows Migrant 'Alternatives to Detention' Program Doesn't Work And Costs A Lot

There is almost nothing good about President Joe Biden’s border policies, and that includes the use of a program that actually proceeds his ‘open-border’ administration.

According to a leaked Trump-era Immigration and Customs Enforcement report obtained by Fox News, the agency concluded that the “Alternatives to Detention” program which has been significantly expanded under the current regime — the population more than doubling during his tenure — has “little value,” comes with “significant expense,” and saw an overwhelming majority of illegal migrants enrolled in the program to be monitored eventually abscond.

The network notes:

The 2020 draft report to Congress on the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP), obtained by Fox News via a source within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is a scathing assessment of the program which has expanded significantly since its formation in 2004 by Congress, and continues to be used today.

In FY 2015, there were approximately 48,000 enrollments in the program, that rose sharply to 179,552 in FY 2019. According to current ICE data, there are currently over 216,000 active participants in the program as of April 2022, that’s up from an average daily population of approximately 90,000 in FY 20. According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, there were about 86,000 active participants in January 2021.

ICE recently said in a court filing that its numbers may triple in the months ahead as it faces what it calls a “historic” border surge.

According to the network, the program employs several forms of technology and case management tools including GOP monitoring via ankle bracelets, smartphone apps and phone check-ins “to monitor about 5% of the illegal immigrants who are on the ‘non-detained docket,’ meaning that while they are in the country illegally, they are not in ICE detention,” Fox News reported.

In order to be eligible for the program, migrants have to be over 18, “effectively removable” from the U.S., and already in some stage of the removal process. Some three-quarters of those in the system are enrolled in the SmartLINK program, which requires migrants to check-in and communicate using an app on a phone or other device.

The immigration enforcement agency said that supervision and resultant monitoring technology is assigned to program participants based on factors including “current immigration status; criminal history; compliance history; community or family ties; being a caregiver or provider; medical conditions; and other humanitarian factors.”

The “predecisional” report, which looked at ISAP from FY 2016-FY 2019, stressed that ISAP is “not a substitute for detention; it is an alternative to release without supervision.”

“The only effective means of ensuring compliance with a court order, to include an individual’s departure from the United States at their end of their immigration proceedings (if ordered removed by an immigration judge), is through the use of detention,” the report says, adding that in FY 2018 and part of FY 2019, 38 percent of the agency’s removals under ISAP required that illegal immigrants had to be taken into custody in order to ensure their removal from the U.S.

“In FY 19, nearly 90 percent of this full immigration lifecycle group absconded [14,385] and are now fugitive aliens believed to be living within the United States,” the report said, adding that absconsion rates increased dramatically each year.

“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.

It also noted that since ISAP’s inception in 2004, of the 36,462 enrolled, “over 21,000 aliens enrolled in ISAP have been subsequently convicted or charged for a criminal act.”

“These crimes have created victims, and all victimization indicated here would not have occurred had the alien remained in detention,” the report said.

The program has also gotten way more expensive. In 2005, the program cost came in at just under $21 million a year, but by 2014 it had risen to $91 million, and by 2019 it was over $258 million.

“Since the creation of ISAP in 2004, the U.S. taxpayer has spent more than $1.46 billion (not adjusted for inflation) to monitor a small segment of the illegal alien population, a significant portion of which become absconders upon release from detention,” the report noted in a frank assessment of the program.

“ICE finds little value in this significant expense and concludes that increased detention is the only way to ensure compliance with the immigration court system for the majority of illegal aliens in the United States,” the report added.


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