The Biden administration wants to put hundreds of migrants under house arrest in a test program aimed at slashing costs amid soaring numbers of crossings at the US-Mexico border.
The “Home Curfew” pilot program in Baltimore and Houston would include between 100 and 200 single adults at each location, according to a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement memo seen by Reuters as the administration tries to move away from the use of for-profit detention centers.
“We just don’t have the capacity,” a Department of Homeland Security official told Reuters. “We’re not going to detain our way out of the border crisis.”
Officials claim the program would cost between $6-8 per enrollee instead of the $142-a-day cost at bustling detention centers. President Joe Biden pledged to end for-profit detention centers during his campaign for office but has failed to do. Thousands are pursuing immigration cases even though COVID-10 restrictions mean many migrants caught entering the country are not allowed to stay.
Under the proposed program, enrollees would be required to be home from 8 p.m.- 8 a.m. but may leave other hours if they have work authorization or other exemptions, according to Reuters. Alternative programs already in place, including ankle bracelet monitoring, do not require people to be confined at home.
And President Joe Biden plans to push for congressional funding that would pay for as many as 400,000 migrants to be placed into non-detention programs, the DHS official said. About 164,000 people are already enrolled in alternative programs – double the amount in those programs in September 2020, before President Joe Biden took office.
The overall number of migrants would be much higher because only heads of household are enrolled, according to the news service.
Biden’s new plan was blasted shortly after news of the program broke on Tuesday.
“How it started: Pres. Biden’s executive actions were a green light for illegal immigrants to enter the country,” Sen. John Boozman, an Arkansas Republican, said on Twitter. “How it’s going: Record border crossings, overflowing detention centers and the release of single adult migrants into the U.S. The #BidenBorderCrisis rages on.”
On the other side of the issue, immigration advocates are saying the program is too strict. The group Detention Watch called it in a Twitter post “e-incarceration” that would impost “more restrictive surveillance” than other alternative programs.
Data released earlier this month showed US Border officials made 1.9 million arrests along the southern border last year – a new record. Of those caught, 402,000 were released into the US for further processing, according to the data.
Migrant encounters along the border reached a peak of over 200,000 in July of last year, according to US Customs and Border Protection data. The number of arrests rose again in November and December, the data show.
With Post wires