U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) admitted it has “no records” of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants released into the country with electronic tracking devices, the agency said in a Dec. 22 letter to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).
ICE informed TRAC that it had “no records” of the 377,980 individuals monitored by the agency’s “Alternatives to Detention” (ATD) program used to electronically track illegal immigrants released into the country. TRAC had asked for data via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on those in ATD custody from the start of fiscal year 2019 to August 2022.
“ICE’s response that they could no longer find records on immigrants in Alternatives to Detention (ATD) that they had previously released came as a shock, particularly after they informed us recently that they had been misleading the public for several months by releasing extremely inaccurate ATD data. The agency really needs to come clean. The American public deserves to have accurate data about the ATD program,” TRAC assistant Professor Austin Kocher told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
In the news : Former Arkansas Teacher’s Assistant Pleads Guilty In Child Porn Case
ICE started the ATD program in 2004 to monitor illegal migrants released into the country using ankle monitors, GPS tracking and cellphones. With limited detention space, ICE relies on the program to hold those awaiting the years-long backlogs in immigration courts.
The agency has previously provided TRAC with data on individuals enrolled in ATD, disclosing which technology was used, dates of entry into the program among other key details.
TRAC’s latest issue with ICE isn’t the first time the data on the ATD program has faced scrutiny.
The DCNF recently reported on errors and miscalculations in the ATD data on illegal immigrants not tracked with any technology and others tracked using GPS monitoring. At the time, ICE had privately disclosed different data to participants of a private event that showed an over 18,000% discrepancy in public data on those not tracked with any technology and another roughly 600% difference in publicly disclosed GPS tracking data.
ICE later apologized for the issue and updated the data.
In the news: Dem Rep Tells MSNBC Mexico Must ‘Do More’ On Border Security
“Upon further inspection of what participants were provided against what was publicly available online, it became clear there was a data miscalculation. Teams worked quickly to address and reconcile the issue, now updated on ICE.gov. We regret ICE provided erroneous ATD enrollment data and worked to resolve the miscalculation going forward,” an ICE spokesperson told the DCNF at the time.
TRAC is concerned over ICE’s consistent errors.
“When Congress ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to publish data on immigrant detention, perhaps it should have been clearer that it expected ICE to produce accurate data—not inconsistent, error-ridden, and misleading data that the agency currently provides to the public on a regular basis. These sloppy, uncorrected errors—more of the norm rather than the exception—demand immediate attention from both the public and from Congress,” TRAC wrote on Sept. 20 after ICE incorrectly released data from May 2021 instead of September 2022.