Although the Biden administration continues to trumpet the success of a major Immigration and Customs Enforcement program (ICE) for tracking illegal immigrants who have been released into the country by the government, experts informed the Daily Caller News Foundation that this data is misleading.
On February 8, ICE Deputy Director Tae Johnson and Senior Official Performing The Duties of Director Pat Fallon wrote that the agency’s Alternatives To Detention (ATD), program to track illegal immigration released into the country by electronic monitors had a high success rate with over 99% of participants appearing in court within the first three months fiscal year 2023. Former officials claim that the data does not account for all court appearances illegal immigrants must attend throughout the entire immigration case adjudication process.
“While I was at ICE I searched for value in the program and tried to figure how ATD could be used to advance ICE’s mission. I came to the conclusion that it was not very helpful. It was a high cost to taxpayers with limited benefits,” Jon Feere, former Chief of Staff of ICE under Trump Administration and Director of Investigations at Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), told the DCNF.
According to ICE, the average time it takes for an illegal immigrant to be enrolled in ATD is 380.7 days. However, asylum proceedings take an average of 1,621 day, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. According to an internal Trump-era ICE Report Fox News obtained in April 2022, the absconsion rate, which refers to those who fail to appear in court and for the entire case cycle of an illegal immigrant enrolled as an ATD participant, was lower than what ICE now says.
“A large sum of taxpayer money being spent on a program that has questionable utility, and the government struggling to accurately report it. It would be a good idea for Congress to investigate the claims of success of this program. They would quickly find that detention is the only way for a foreign national to appear at their hearing if they did. Feere stated that, as we have seen under Trump’s administration, large numbers of aliens are willing to abscond, provided they have enough time.”
Nearly 90% of ATD participants who had their full court proceedings tracked absconded. They were classified as “fugitive aliens believed be living in the United States”, and the rate was increasing, according the report.
Rodney Scott, former Chief Border Patrol Officer, told the DCNF recently that he thinks it is misleading. It’s not working if you follow the entire lifecycle.
Only 6% of those who are deported after the process is over leave the country. Everyone shows up at the first hearing to get work authorization. They can also get benefits in the United States. The judge basically says, “hey, the system’s so backed-up, it’s going to be years before this process is completed.” How can I live here? They get work authorization and they are happy ever after. Scott stated that even if they are deported, they don’t care as they aren’t leaving and no one’s looking for them.”
According to previously obtained documents by the DCNF, ICE also reported incorrect information to the public regarding the number of participants in the program.
One instance was that ICE was incorrectly reporting the illegal immigrant population enrolled in ATD without tracking monitors by more then 18,000%. In another, ICE was misreporting approximately 600% of illegal immigrants tracked using GPS technology.
ICE later rectified the mistakes and offered an apology.
ICE did not respond to a request to comment.