In violation of federal statute, the Biden administration will not provide a full accounting on the number of illegal immigrants in two Alternatives to Detention programs.
Faced with a record number of illegal border crossings, the public has no idea how many illegal immigrants are enrolled in the Case Management Pilot Program and Young Adult Case Management Program. The two initiatives, which the Biden administration started as part of its general policy of minimizing detention, are among the most liberal that the U.S. government offers to illegal immigrants. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is mandated by law to publish the number of illegal immigrants enrolled in each of those programs but has yet to do so.
The lack of transparency is particularly striking given the leniency that the programs offer their participants: The Young Adult Case Management program explicitly bars any GPS tracking of participants, and the Case Management Pilot Program provides a number of social services, including "legal orientation programs" and "connection to … affordable housing, child care, transportation, health care, schooling, [and] language classes."
"The Case Management Pilot Program and Young Adult Case Management Program are attempts to divert [Alternatives to Detention] funding away from law enforcement based on data and towards social services," said former foreign service officer and Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Simon Hankinson. "The lack of clear, long-term reporting from Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Alternatives to Detention numbers and final case outcomes via each option obscures proper assessment of the programs. Given the Department of Homeland Security director Alejandro Mayorkas's policy of severely reducing interior enforcement, this seems deliberate."
House Republicans are attempting to end the programs with their power of the purse. The 2024 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that passed through committee last month stripped such funding at the urging of conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation.
"The American people should be outraged that their tax dollars are being funneled through ICE to provide social services to illegal aliens," said National Immigration Center for Enforcement president R.J. Hauman. "Rather than helping the men and women of ICE enforce the law, the Biden administration is actively undermining them and turning to radical NGOs with no law enforcement background."
The fight over the two programs comes as cities around the United States are struggling to feed and house the millions of illegal immigrants who have entered the country since President Joe Biden took office. New York City mayor Eric Adams agreed to spend nearly $300 million on hotels to shelter just 5,000 illegal immigrants and said the city has "no space" left.
The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment.
Although federal law requires the Department of Homeland Security to detain all aliens who arrive in the United States illegally "throughout the completion of applicable proceedings," high levels of border crossings often make this rule difficult to follow. ICE in 2004 created Alternative to Detention programs to ensure aliens with deportation orders are properly removed from the country.
More than 322,700 aliens were placed in Alternative to Detention programs by the conclusion of the 2022 fiscal year, federal data show. That figure does not include the number of aliens enrolled in the Case Management Pilot Program and the Young Adult Case Management Program.
The Biden administration last year appointed Church World Service as the lead nonprofit over the Case Management Pilot Program, prompting criticism from Republicans. Church World Service has a long history of far-left rhetoric, including demands for the abolition of ICE, and cosigned a letter in 2021 that called for the Biden administration to end a policy of prioritizing the deportation of gang members and those convicted of "aggravated felonies."
Republican senators Roger Marshall (Kan.) and Bill Hagerty (Tenn.) last November demanded that senior DHS officials provide more details on the "criteria for an alien to be considered for the Case Management Pilot program," as well as the social services the program provides. The senators also expressed concerns that "taxpayer money" is being spent on "NGOs espousing rhetoric aimed at frustrating and dismantling immigration enforcement and our nation's borders."
The Young Adult Case Management, which is aimed at 18- and 19-year-olds, offers "a network of age-appropriate and culturally sensitive community resources," including "trauma-informed care."
Acuity International, which received an $80 million grant to implement the Young Adult Case Management program, is tasked with providing any illegal immigrants deported with a "support system" in their home countries.
The United States saw more than 2.76 million illegal border crossings in the 2022 fiscal year alone, more than a million higher than the previous administration's record. Recent data from Customs and Border Protection show that border crossings are surging again after a brief lull in June.