News and Commentary

White House Defends Giving Smartphones To Illegal Aliens
dpatop - 02 March 2021, Mexico, San Ysidro: A group of migrants wearing T-shirts that read "Biden, please let us in" kneel and pray at the border crossing.
(Photo by Stringer/picture alliance via Getty Images)

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended the Biden administration’s decision to provide smartphones to illegal aliens in order to track those individuals as they move throughout America.

During a White House press briefing, Psaki argued that it “is all part of our effort, as individuals come into the United States and individuals who are entering who will proceed to immigration proceedings, to monitor and track where they are.”

Her comments were in response to Fox News’ Peter Doocy, who referenced a report made in part by his colleague Bill Melugin. On Tuesday, Melguin tweeted, “Sources tell me w/ parole releases, the migrants are asked to turn themselves into ICE in a city of their choice.”

“I’m told many of them are given these phones by the government to track them and allow them to communicate w/ ICE, but there’s no way to stop them from being tossed,” he added.

As flagged by Fox News, Doocy pressed Psaki as to whether or not the Biden administration was concerned that migrants could simply throw away the phones, thus avoiding tracking:

Doocy asked Psaki whether there was concern by anyone in the administration that some migrants may decide to take the phones and “toss them.”

“Do you have a record of people throwing phones away,” she responded.

“I’m just asking if that’s a concern,” Doocy said.

“Our concern is ensuring that individuals who irregularly migrate to the United States proceed through our process of, you know, of course, being monitored, but also participating in hearings to determine whether or not they will be able to stay,” Psaki said.

Psaki also claimed that the program has helped increase punctuality for illegal aliens at federally government-mandated court appearances after they enter the country. The “vast, vast majority of people are appearing in part, we have these monitors, monitoring systems in order to do that effectively,” Psaki said.

The plan to give government-funded phones to illegal aliens is part of the “Alternatives to Detention” program which monitors illegal aliens through apps, GPS devices, and other means.

The goal is to decrease the number of illegal immigrants detained by the federal government by allowing these individuals to be out in the public under the watchful eye of the government as they check-in via smartphone apps or are tracked through other technology.

In March, KXAN NBC News reported that a researcher said the program has resulted in releasing more illegal aliens into America.

“We saw a pretty significant drop in the latest data we got from U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement down to under 18,000,” Austin Kocher, a TRAC researcher, told KXAN’s Border Report, at the time:

Kocher attributes the drop in detentions to these reasons:

  • Fewer migrants are being put into detention at the U.S./Mexico border.
  • A drop in interior enforcement arrests of migrants.
  • More migrants are being paroled into the United States to await asylum proceedings under the Department of Homeland Security’s Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program.

According to KXAN, “TRAC reports that nearly 190,000 migrants currently are in ATD. This includes migrants who report via telephone to their caseworkers, those with GPS ankle monitoring devices and those who report via the app SmartLINK from their cellphones.”

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