The Biden administration is spending nearly $80 million on a new system to monitor illegal immigrants that prohibits the use of any GPS technology, a decision that experts say will make it impossible to locate their whereabouts after their release into the United States.
The system, according to government records reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon, is meant to track illegal immigrants via monthly check-ins via phone. Migrants released into the U.S. interior aged 18-19 are eligible for the program. Any GPS monitoring that would give exact locations, such as ankle monitor tracking, is explicitly forbidden, according to the contract.
"This sort of thing is popular among the left. It sounds great but the reality is that people in these programs will likely never be [deported]," former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Ron Vitiello told the Free Beacon. "There's nothing at the end of these programs. If they don't report in, that's that. They're now a fugitive."
The new program for illegal immigrants contradicts claims from the Biden administration that the federal government is investing in sophisticated monitoring programs for illegal immigrants during the worst border crisis in U.S. history. When Republican lawmakers criticized the White House over reports in April that immigration authorities were providing cell phones for illegal immigrants upon their release into the United States, the White House defended the conduct, saying the phones assist the government in monitoring the location of illegal immigrants.
"We need to take steps to ensure that we know where individuals are and we can track and we can check in with them," former White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
The contract was awarded to Acuity International last month. The first payment of just over $16 million out of a potential $79.5 million was paid on Sept. 1.
ICE says in its memo that the purpose of the program is to "promote compliance" among illegal immigrants. Aside from providing case workers for the migrants, the contractor will also "develop and maintain a network of age appropriate and culturally sensitive community resources."
These resources include "trauma informed care." The contractor will also "assist" illegal immigrants "with a support system upon" deportation.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Caliburn International rebranded as Acuity International in 2021, likely in part because of criticism it faced from Democratic lawmakers during the Trump era. A subsidiary of Caliburn, Comprehensive Health Services, Inc. operated a temporary shelter for child migrants who were either unaccompanied or separated from their parents in 2018.
That subsidiary became a subject of ire by such Democrats as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.). In 2019, Warren sent a letter to then-Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar demanding that Caliburn’s subsidiary not operate a for-profit migrant shelter again, citing previous allegations of "overcrowding and poor conditions."
Rather than place illegal immigrants in a detention facility, those eligible for what the government calls an "Alternatives to Detention" (ATD) program may essentially roam the country feely before their court date. The vast majority of illegal immigrants released into the United States have qualified for ATD programs since 2020.
"The Alternatives to Detention program has already proven to be a costly failure with thousands of aliens disappearing from monitoring every year, and there's no reason to think this will be any different," Jon Feere, former DHS senior adviser and director of investigations at the Center for Immigration Studies, told the Free Beacon. "The goal should be to quickly determine whether these individuals have a valid case, and if not, to quickly deport them. Instead, DHS is developing a massive social services program that will benefit NGOs with no guarantee any of these individuals will actually return home when ordered to do so."
The Biden administration has dramatically expanded ATD programs for illegal immigrants. Because of the sheer number of illegal immigrants crossing into the country, the Department of Homeland Security is increasingly relying on private contractors to operate call centers for illegal immigrants who report their location in a brief monthly interview.
An internal ICE report on ATD programs, first obtained by Fox News, stated that there are roughly 1.6 million illegal immigrants with scheduled immigration hearings who are not in detention. Many of those illegal immigrants, records show, will not face an immigration court date for upwards of five years.
Migrant encounters on the southern border exceeded two million for the fiscal year in August, a new record. The previous record was held by the 2021 fiscal year, which saw 1.94 million encounters.