GPS Used to Track Some Immigrants Caught at Border

Alicia A. Caldwell, Big Story, December 24, 2014

The Homeland Security Department is experimenting with a new way to track immigrant families caught crossing the border illegally and then released into the U.S.: GPS-enabled ankle bracelets.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement earlier this month launched a program to give GPS devices to some parents caught crossing the Mexican border illegally with their children in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. They were given the devices after being released from custody with notices to report back to immigration officials, according to a confidential ICE document obtained by The Associated Press.

In September, the Homeland Security Department confided to a group of immigrant advocates during a confidential meeting that about 70 percent of immigrants traveling as families failed to report back to ICE as ordered after they were released at the border. The AP obtained an audio recording of the meeting and interviewed participants. The ICE official on the recording was not identified.

The high no-show rate and a lack of jail space for immigrant family members prompted the Obama administration to open a temporary family jail at the Border Patrol’s training academy in rural New Mexico and convert a men’s jail in Texas to one that could house families. Immigration advocates have been critical of the Obama administration for jailing families–mostly mothers with young children–and for poor conditions in the jails.


ICE said this week that the pilot program, known as “RGV 250,” started Dec. 1 and will eventually track 250 “heads of household” caught traveling with their families in the Rio Grande Valley and released into the interior of the U.S. Once those immigrants arrive and report as ordered, ICE may remove the tracking device.

The document says the GPS devices will allow ICE to track the rate of immigrants reporting back to the agency as ordered and the average length of time it takes those people to report. If the program proves successful in getting immigrants to report back to ICE, it may be expanded.


More than 429,000 cases are pending in federal immigration court. Thousands of those immigrants are enrolled in the ICE reporting program, which varies from reporting periodically via telephone to being outfitted with a GPS tracking device. According to the ICE document, ICE will be able to monitor about 29,000 immigrants with GPS devices in the coming year.


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  • Vonderrit Myers (St. Sandwich of Ham) was on a GPS-enabled ankle bracelet.

    • Oil Can Harry

      Al Sharpton: “Why da police shoot a black man wif a samich in his hand but not Jared from Subway? Cuz Jared be white!”

  • Easyrhino

    “70 percent of immigrants traveling as families failed to report back to ICE as ordered after they were released at the border”

    I’m shocked! Next we’ll be told that blacks comprise a statistically disproportionate amount of the positions in the NBA.

  • IstvanIN

    Of course people who break the law by breaking into the country are going to pay attention to an order to report.

  • E. Newton

    It’s a wonderful idea, a sure path to full employment. We allow 200 million more foreigners into the nation tomorrow, but with one important restriction. Each wears a GPS ankle bracelet. Each citizen is assigned one foreigner to track. Military satellites are refitted to allow the citizen to zoom in on the foreigner and the foreigner’s movements are tracked on the citizen’s smart phone app, TV or computer.

    This way our citizens can indulge their intense desire to look at TV and smart phone screens, while at the same time keeping a continuous surveillance on the legal-illegals. Citizens would be paid a salary for this from “the government”, while the legal-illegals will be paid from the taxes collected on the payments made to the citizens. I should be in politics.

  • Dwight

    Catch. Release. Then expect the criminal to report back to ICE under his own recognizance. Some serious border enforcement going on here.

  • Who Me?

    70 percent of immigrants traveling as families failed to report back to ICE as ordered after they were released at the border…
    The high no-show rate…
    More than 429,000 cases are pending….
    Sounds like all is going exactly as Obama envisioned.