Posted on January 27, 2022

DHS Begins Tracking Migrants Through Phones After Losing Track of 50,000

Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, January 25, 2022

The Biden administration has begun tracking all illegal immigrants released at the southern border into the United States, seeking to reverse course after losing track of nearly 50,000 migrants let go from Border Patrol custody under chaotic circumstances.

Starting in the fall, the Department of Homeland Security opted to conditionally allow noncitizens to leave through a process called parole, three people familiar with the federal immigration operation told the Washington Examiner. Under parole, migrants are still being discharged from Border Patrol facilities on the border, but their records have been digitally transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency responsible for tracking noncitizens within the country. Those released have also been outfitted with ankle monitors or have installed a phone app that allows authorities to keep tabs on them.

The Biden administration implemented the parole policy in an attempt to stop losing track of tens of thousands of migrants as it did by relying on them to check in with the government on their own.

Until early fall, the Biden administration released many from custody with documents known as notices to report — a document telling them to check in with ICE once they reach their destination in the interior of the country. Of 100,000 released and told to report to ICE between mid-March and August, 47,000 failed to check in .

The administration had resorted to issuing notices to report as a last-ditch effort to more quickly process people in custody as illegal migration at the U.S.-Mexico border spiked. Issuing the documents allowed the Border Patrol to save time by not placing each person in court proceedings to ensure that they would appear before a judge for illegally crossing the border.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection “stopped issuing Notices to Report in November 2021 and has been working with ICE to ensure individuals released at the border are monitored under the Alternatives to Detention program,” a DHS spokesman wrote in an email Friday.

The notices to report created a headache for the DHS because it was unable to track the 47,000 who did not follow up with ICE, and it had no idea where they had gone. The DHS stopped issuing notices to report in November, the spokesman said, but data released by CBP indicate this practice stopped in late September after so many people failed to check in.

What’s worse, under the notices to report effort, no one was traceable because ICE had no information about each person. Even though Mayorkas told senators in September that those who fail to self-report to ICE “would qualify as an enforcement priority of ours,” the government now has no way to know where they are living.