McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — After two years, there has been a sudden drop in the number of asylum-seekers federal officials put into the Alternatives to Detention program, new data shows.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) of Syracuse University reports a 19% decrease in asylum-seekers who were enrolled in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ATD program as of mid-February, compared to those monitored through the program in December.

(TRAC Graphic)

“The number of migrants monitored by each technology type has declined, including SmartLINK, a smartphone app that is currently ICE’s most-used monitoring technology,” according to a report published Tuesday by TRAC.

Three dozen Democratic lawmakers want DHS to use less surveillance technology, like the SmartLINK cellphone app, to monitor asylum-seekers. The cellphone app, such as this one seen at the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas, on June 22, 2022, does not allow the migrants to make regular phone calls or check other data. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)

TRAC reports the total number of migrants enrolled in ATD as of Feb. 11 were:

  • SmartLINK – 268,968
  • Telephonic reporting – 14,197
  • GPS ankle monitor – 5,600
  • No technology – 17,497

The “no technology” category is relatively new category, and comes as dozens of Democratic lawmakers in Congress are asking the Biden administration for more funds to expand “less intrusive” asylum case management programs.

The House members — including several from the border states of California, Texas and Arizona — have sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget asking for $20 million in the President’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposal to expand the Case Management Pilot Program (CMPP), which is under the Department of Homeland Security.

The program is designed to pair asylum-seekers with nonprofits to help them navigate legal and social challenges as they go through immigration court proceedings while living in the United States.

(TRAC Graphic)

The South Texas ICE office in Harlingen continues to enroll the most migrants in ATD programs, data finds. There were 45,356 asylum-seekers enrolled in ATD through Harlingen.

But that was a 45% drop from the 65,706 who were enrolled in ATD through Harlingen in January.