Immigrants Monitored by ICE's Alternatives to Detention Program Vary by Nationality, Gender, and State
(18 Oct 2022) During the first year of the Biden administration, ICE's Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program grew rapidly from 86,548 at the end of December 2020 to 157,157 at the end of December 2021, attracting public interest and demonstrating the centrality of ATD to the Biden administration’s approach to immigration control. Despite these large—and growing—numbers made public by ICE through bi-weekly disclosures on its detention website, the public has seen little data about who has been enrolled in ATD. In this report, TRAC examines the growth of ATD during the first year of the Biden administration using detailed data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests.

Using these data, TRAC found that nationalities represented in ICE's ATD program diversified considerably in the first year of the Biden administration. At the end of December 2020, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and El Salvador—four countries highly represented in immigration enforcement data—constituted fully 80 percent of all people in ATD. By the end of 2021, the growth in ATD numbers were driven by ICE's enrollment of many more nationalities into its ATD program, including Hondurans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Cubans, Brazilians, Haitians, and many other nationalities which saw very considerable growth. The number of Venezuelans in ATD, in particular, increased 26 fold over that year, from 608 to 15,884, while Nicaraguans, not far behind, grew to 17 times their original numbers (from 833 to 14,846) over the same period. The number of Brazilian's grew from 2,170 to 11,643, Ecuadorians grew from 596 to 7,341, and Colombians grew from just 204 to 2,365.

Gender also shifted considerably. At the end of 2020, ICE's total ATD population was composed of slightly more women (51 percent) than men (49 percent). But by the end of the first calendar year of the Biden administration, men made up 54 percent and women made up 46 percent of people monitored by ICE. Most nationalities were relatively evenly split by gender recorded by ICE, although some exceptions stood out. At the end of 2021, Brazilians in ATD, for instance, tended to be more male (8,471 or 73 percent), while Salvadorans tended to be more female (9,083 or 67 percent). Overall, women tended to be assigned to less restrictive forms of monitoring, including TR and SmartLINK, rather than GPS ankle monitors.

The number of people on ATD by state also changed. While California traditionally has had by far the most immigrants monitored on ATD, Texas ended 2021 with the most people monitored. During a year when total ATD enrollments slightly less-than-doubled, the number of people monitored by ICE in Texas grew six-fold from 5,681 to 33,902. Massachusetts and Arizona also grew over six-fold in the same year, more than Texas, but in terms of absolute magnitude, Texas jumped ahead of California and New Jersey in terms of total ATD population.

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