EXCLUSIVE: DHS Wants To Pay An Outside Group Millions To Write Rules For Tracking Illegal Immigrants In The US

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Mexican authorities keep watch as migrants descend from a tractor-trailer in Chiapa de Corzo

EXCLUSIVE: DHS Wants To Pay An Outside Group Millions To Write Rules For Tracking Illegal Immigrants In The US

Jennie Taer on January 21, 2023

  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is outsourcing the policy work behind its Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program, according to an online posting from the agency.
  • The program is used to monitor illegal immigrants released from detention with tracking technology.
  • “This is just another attempt by this administration to let immigration advocates decide what a federal law enforcement agency can and can’t do and how they’re going to do business, which is unconscionable,” former ICE Director Tom Homan told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seeking to contract with a nongovernmental group for millions of dollars to outsource the policy behind a program it runs to monitor illegal immigrants released from custody, according to an agency post about the expected contract.

DHS is seeking help in running Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program, which the agency established in 2004 to track illegal immigrants released into the country with ankle bracelets and cellphones, according to the Jan. 5 contract advertisement worth $1 million to $2 million. ICE previously outsourced a similar program to a nongovernmental group that has advocated to abolish the agency and end detention altogether.

“This is just another attempt by this administration to let immigration advocates decide what a federal law enforcement agency can and can’t do and how they’re going to do business, which is unconscionable,” former acting ICE Director Tom Homan told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The agency has previously tasked the Church World Service, a faith-based group that has openly advocated to “abolish” the agency, with managing its Case Management Pilot Program.

“ICE officers and policy staff could easily develop ATD policies without the involvement of some NGO that opposes ICE’s mission. The experienced officers who have seen their fair share of ATD violations should be driving this — but this administration’s goal is to take officers out of the equation, it seems,” former ICE Chief of Staff Jon Feere, who is currently the director of investigations at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), told the DCNF.

The ATD program has not been without problems itself. In fact, between fiscal years 2015 and 2020, 84% of illegal immigrants enrolled in the program absconded, according to an internal report to Congress that was previously obtained by Fox News.

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“Thousands of aliens violate the terms of ATD each year and abscond with no repercussions. Any policy change should include barring ATD violators from immigration benefits, requiring detention for most aliens since ICE routinely fails to anticipate who will abscond from the program, developing a unit within Fugitive Operations dedicated to immediately arresting and deporting ATD violators, and demanding that Congress impose a five-year criminal penalty for aliens who violate ATD. This is the bare minimum if the ATD program is to develop any integrity. Since 2005, the taxpayers have put about $1.5 billion into the program, and it’s mostly just resulted in aliens disappearing into the United States and becoming fugitives. Congress must massively increase detention if our nation’s immigration laws are to mean anything,” Feere added.

ICE has also had issues with the program’s data on the number of illegal immigrants it’s monitoring through ATD. The DCNF earlier found that ICE was underreporting the number of illegal immigrants released with no tracking technology by 18,000%.

The DCNF also later found a roughly 600% discrepancy between the number of individuals tracked using GPS technology on ICE’s website and what it was privately disclosing. ICE later corrected the errors and apologized for the mistakes.

“ICE has a policy shop, DHS has a policy shop. So why are they going to a nongovernment agency when they already have policy shops in place that do this exact thing? I’ll tell you why, because they want an outside NGO to write policies that are gonna do away with compliance, do away with the GPS capability,” Homan said.

Neither DHS nor ICE responded to requests for comment.

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