The White House on Wednesday defended the idea of giving smartphones to illegal border crossers, to help them stay in touch with ICE officials.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki appeared indignant after Fox News reporter Peter Doocy questioned her about the program, detailed recently in their reporting.
“I think you, of all people, since you’ve asked me a range of questions on this topic over time, would recognize that we need to take steps to ensure that we know where individuals are and we can track, and we can check in with then,” she replied.
Psaki said the phones provided to migrants and border crossers were part of the administration’s “alternative to detention” program at the border.
There are nearly 180,000 undocumented immigrants in the United States being monitored with traceable devices, according to reports.
The phones, Psaki said, provided migrants the ability monitored by officials using “telephonic” technology — matching a voice print and requiring migrants to call once a week to check in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
She said tablets and smartphones could also be used to monitor border crossers using “facial matching” and GPS monitoring.
Psaki explained the program was “all part” of the Biden administration’s effort to track migrants coming into the country without having to detain them.
When asked if the administration was concerned about migrants just throwing the phone away, Psaki replied, “Do you have a record of people throwing phones away?”
“Our concern is ensuring individuals who irregularly migrate to the United States proceed through our process of being monitored,” she continued.
The monitoring systems, she argued, helped border officials “do that effectively” until their immigration court hearings could be completed.