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Sunday, March 26, 2023

Biden gives ‘free’ phones to illegal immigrants, hell-bent on doing away with detention

When I first heard that the Biden administration was giving free smartphones to illegal aliens who recently crossed the border, I was incensed. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I instantly knew why, and that is because the administration doesn’t want to detain them.

The open borders advocates have access to the same data I do that can be found within the 2020 Department of Homeland Security Enforcement Lifecycle Report. They know that if aliens are detained and receive a final order of removal from an immigration judge, the aliens will be removed 98% of the time. 

The same report also shows that unless a deportable alien is fully detained, 85% will not be removed from the U.S. Only 6% of family groups leave as ordered and about 3% of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) leave as ordered. And let’s remember, 72% of UACs are of the age 15-17. 


An unfinished section of a border wall near the southern Texas border city of Roma, on March 30, 2021. (Ed Jones/AFP) 

An unfinished section of a border wall near the southern Texas border city of Roma, on March 30, 2021. (Ed Jones/AFP) 

I have said for years that detention is a vital tool to ensure each alien gets due process and actually sees a judge and a court’s final decision can be carried out – whether it’s some sort of relief or an ordered departure. Many advocates and politicians insist these aliens have a right to claim asylum, and I agree. But if you believe that as a function of the legal system, then you also must stand by the decision of that legal process and respect it. Detention guarantees both. 

However, this administration is attacking detention and Congress is limiting the funding for it. Under President Trump’s last full year there were more than 55,000 people in immigration detention and now there is about 25,000. 

Next year’s budget cuts funding from 34,000 beds to an even lower 25,000 beds. Many of the Democrat politicians want to end detention all together. Instead of detention, they want to focus on “alternatives to detention.” 

The most recent budget requests $527.1 million, an increase of $75 million, to expand those alternatives to detention monitoring programs. What ICE really needs is more technology, and they need to combine detention and all technology for effective enforcement to carry out its important mission. 

We have done this in both Republican and Democrat administrations. We have never been able to get away from alternative programs and this administration is hell-bent of doing a lot more of it rather than detain. 

Biden, Mayorkas abandoned Border Patrol: Tom Homan Video

This is where the phones come in. Here is what my research of these new phones has revealed. There are an estimated 10-12 million individuals with unresolved immigration cases in the United States. The number of people being monitored is only a small percentage awaiting an immigration hearing – approximately 213,000 individuals of the four million on the non-detained docket. 

These devices/phones that are being utilized by ICE are supervision devices which allows for individuals who have been placed into removal proceedings to comply with the terms of their release. 

To be clear, ICE does not issue free all-purpose phones to migrants. The devices only allow the individual to make a 911 call or contact the ICE officer assigned to their case as per the terms of their release. The supervision applications are pre-installed. 

Officers assign the device to an alien, and power on the unit. Functionality is completely controlled by the Agency. Participants are unable to disable features or install third-party applications. In addition, there is no ability to browse the internet, make unauthorized phone calls, access app stores, manipulate the phone settings and send or receive text messages. The device also has GPS capability. This mobile monitoring app provides a secure platform for communication between the ICE officer and alien.

Dan Bongino on White House giving free phones to migrants, not Americans Video

Now comes a tough choice. When you are dealing with an administration that controls Congress and the White House that is hell-bent on detaining fewer and fewer migrants, what’s the lesser of two evils? Release migrants with no oversight, no monitoring, no GPS capability; or do you try to monitor and track them to the best of your ability? They can certainly toss the device in a lake and disappear but data shows that most do not. Most people abscond after receiving a final order.


Here is why the monitoring is important. If the device maintains a good success rate like it has thus far, more aliens will be in court when they receive a final order of removal. 

Orders that are issued “in absentia” (alien was not present at the time the judge makes a decision), are often appealed because the alien will claim he never received notice of the hearing and has a right to be heard which delays for years the final outcome. A device that will increase the likelihood that you show up to court to be served the decision usually removes that petty appeals process. 

To be clear, I support detention. It’s the most successful way to ensure migrants received due process and ensures swift removal when a court orders it. “Catch and release” sends a bad message to the rest of the world to enter our country illegally, and you will be set free. That is why we ended it under the Trump administration.  


ICE needs to max out their detention capacity and hold as many illegal immigrants as possible but in reality, some will have to be released for a myriad of reasons.  This has always happened. 

At least monitor them. Do the best we can to make sure we know where they are and are held accountable.  


Tom Homan, former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

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