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Commentary: Phones Tracking Illegal Migrants Cost $407M Annually

Commentary by Adam Andrzejewski originally published by and

The dramatic surge in illegal border crossings in the last 18 months has forced the Department of Homeland Security to get creative quickly.

To keep track of the whereabouts of the millions of crossers as they are released into the United States with only notices to appear before an immigration judge at a later date, DHS is using SmartLINK cell phones as one tool in the alternatives-to-detention toolkit, costing an estimated $407 million per year.

The number of SmartLINK users has exploded, now at 256,000, using facial recognition and GPS monitoring, according to Border Report. When U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests, migrants must take photos of themselves, so they can be tracked through GPS.

The phones are used only for tracking someone who entered illegally, and don’t have internet access. The person in possession of the phone can only take a call when an ICE agent is trying to reach them, according to Border Report. Migrants also have access to calendar items with dates for upcoming court appearances.

Proponents tout SmartLINK monitoring as a less costly alternative to detaining someone. The cost per device, is about $4.36 per day rather than $140 to hold someone in detention. A bargain? With 256,000 in use that comes in at over $1.1 million each day, or $407 million per year.

ICE estimated the number of SmartLINK users has increased by more than 880 percent from the first quarter of fiscal year 2021, Border Report said.

On top of the SmartLINK monitoring, there are 41,000 people being monitored via GPS ankle bracelets, and 20,000 via telephone reporting, bringing the total of people under the alternatives-to-detention program close to 317,000, according to data tracking the program.

While the program is far less costly than detention, there’s no data to prove its effectiveness and what incentive migrants have for hanging on to the devices once they are released.

Adam Andrzejewski – The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at

This article was originally published by RealClearPolicy and made available via RealClearWire.

Deneen Borelli

Deneen Borelli is the author of Blacklash: How Obama and the Left are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation. Deneen is a contributor with Newsmax Broadcasting. She is a former Fox News contributor and has appeared regularly on “Hannity,” “Fox & Friends,” “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” and “America’s Newsroom.” She has also appeared on Fox Business Network programs “Making Money with Charles Payne,” “The Evening Edit with Liz MacDonald,” and “Cavuto: Coast to Coast.” Previously, Deneen appeared on MSNBC, CNN, the BBC and C-SPAN. In addition to television, Deneen co-hosted radio programs on the SiriusXM Patriot channel with her husband Tom. Recently, Deneen co-hosted the Reigniting Liberty podcast with Tom. Deneen is a frequent speaker at political events, including the FreedomWorks 9.12.2009 March on D.C. which drew a crowd estimated at over 800,000 people. Deneen is also an Ambassador with, a social media platform that promotes free speech, and with the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) which advances policies that put Americans first. Deneen testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources in May 2011 and before the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee in December 2011. Previously, Deneen was a host, Outreach Director with overseeing its outreach program, a Project 21 Senior Fellow, and Manager of Media Relations with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Prior to joining CORE, Deneen worked at Philip Morris USA for 20 years. During her corporate career at Philip Morris she worked in various positions, her last as Project Management Coordinator in the Information Management department where she was responsible for the department’s mandated quality processes, communications, sales information and database management. Deneen began her Philip Morris career as a secretary and advanced to positions of increasing responsibilities. Deneen worked full-time and attended classes at night for 11 years to earn her B.A. in Managerial Marketing from Pace University, New York City. Deneen served on the Board of Trustees with The Opportunity Charter School in Harlem, New York. She appeared in educational videos for children, worked as a runway fashion model, and auditioned for television commercials. Her interests include ancient history, pistol target shooting, photography, and volunteering at her church. Deneen currently resides in Connecticut with her husband Tom.

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