ICE’s Phone Tracking App Rings Up a Wrong Number

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is using a new phone app to track illegal aliens around the country. But the agency’s anemic enforcement efforts suggest that this high-tech gambit is more about public relations than actual results.

Nearly 100,000 migrants were in Alternatives to Detention (ATD) programs that employ tools like SmartLINK, as of May 13. This has offended the sensibilities of some open borders activists who complain that aliens are treated like digital prisoners.

But the system is riddled with gaps. The mobile app is not currently issued to migrants crossing the South Texas border, the largest gateway for illegal aliens. Most of these migrants are released so quickly into the U.S. that they are not even handed a notice to appear in immigration court.

Meantime interior enforcement continues to crater. ICE deportations have fallen to their lowest levels on record while illegal border crossings are at a 20-year high. Incredibly, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) are averaging one illegal alien arrest every two months.

With those dismal numbers and a porous southern border, the Biden administration is clearly not serious about enforcing immigration laws. But SmartLINK and other ATD schemes enable Biden & Co. to:

  • Disperse migrants across the U.S.
  • Avoid the uncomfortable optics of crowded detention centers.
  • Reward the tech sector for its campaign contributions.

They do not, however, ensure that illegal aliens on the loose will ever appear in immigration court or be deported.

ICE’s new phone app reminds us of that one-hit wonder from a decade ago, “Call Me Maybe.” Here today, gone tomorrow.

About Author


Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.