EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Cell phones have been distributed to undocumented migrants as a part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Alternatives to Detention programs as a means of tracking them.
ATD programs help ensure compliance with release conditions and provide case management services, according to ICE's website.
Migrants are only issued the devices if they do not already have access to their own smart phone. Otherwise, migrants can simply download the SmartLink app.
SmartLink uses several technologies, including facial matching technology and GPS. Migrants are required to communicate routinely.
“Immigration gave us this phone when we turned ourselves in. We have to update every day through message with a picture and send it to them with the cell phone they gave us. The cell phone is only for that function and not for applications,” said one migrant named Andrea, who was issued a cell phone from ICE, “The message comes in stating ‘report yourself to avoid absences’ and in which case one has to take the picture of their current location.”
The phones are issued to each individual for three months and can only be used to communicate with ICE staff. They do not allow access to any other app or even to make phone calls.