U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spends nearly a quarter of a million dollars every day on a program that allows illegal migrants to check in via a smartphone application rather than be placed in detention, according to agency data from fiscal year 2022.
ICE data shows that more than 255,000 migrants are enrolled in the SmartLINK smartphone application, which is part of the “Alternatives to Detention” program that allows participants to be monitored via smartphone or tablet through facial-matching technology. SmartLINK costs the government over $245,000 a day, or nearly $90 million a year.
The Biden administration admitted to giving smartphones to migrants in April as part of the “Alternatives to Detention” program.
With SmartLINK costing just under a dollar a day per migrant, it is less expensive than GPS monitoring through ankle bracelets, which costs about $2.75 a day per migrant, ICE data shows.
VoiceID, the cheapest technology program for monitoring migrants, is the least used. The program creates a biometric voice print and involves check-in calls. It has fewer than 20,000 participants enrolled in the program, which costs $0.18 a day per migrant.
ICE has not published compliance rate information for the Alternatives to Detention program.