Putting TRAC to Work
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CBS News
June 13, 2024

ICE's SmartLINK app tracks migrants by the thousands. Does it work?
By Tom Hanson, Laura Geller, Josh Peņa, John Kelly, Aaron Munoz, Jose Sanchez

"There's tremendous incentive for them to follow all of the rules, and tremendous disincentive for them to ignore the rules," Kocher said. "Expanding access to legal representation and other kinds of legal support could serve the same purpose."
In 2018, ICE launched SmartLINK as part of its Alternatives to Detention program to monitor migrants it deemed "low risk" to the American public. The app, which costs $4 per migrant per day, is viewed as a cost-effective alternative to detention, which costs roughly $150 per migrant per day, according to the agency. The real cost difference is difficult to estimate, as often, migrants are on monitoring for longer than they are detained. "It's really an expansion of monitoring migrants and of migrant surveillance," said Austin Kocher, a research professor with the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC, at Syracuse University. "Electronic monitoring really started in the criminal justice system. It was then adopted and taken up by ICE as part of their program." As of April 2024, ICE has monitored 779,679 migrants through the app, according to data from the agency. Officials note due to cost, migrants who are compliant with ICE check-ins are often transitioned off the app after an average of 14 to 18 months. Meanwhile, immigration court proceedings can last years.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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