Under Biden, monitoring of immigrants by cell phone has jumped 808%.

By Maurizio Guerrero, In These Times

When you are in a process like this one, all of your body shivers, every bit of yourself shakes, because you do not want to make mistakes to be again at risk of being detained or deported,” says Carlos, whose name has been shortened to avoid affecting his immigration case. ​It wears you out.”

Carlos settled in Fontana, Calif., coming from Chimalhuacán, on the outskirts of Mexico City, in 2002. But after a misdemeanor in 2019, Carlos was subject to deportation proceedings. He was imprisoned for three months, electronically shackled for more than a year, and, in January 2021, ordered to install an app on his phone so that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents could check in on him.

An eyeball in the center of a cellphone screen

The app uses voice recognition and geolocation to verify that Carlos is at home, which ICE says helps ensure his ​compliance with release conditions.” People in deportation cases are required to live at one permanent address and alert ICE if they move.

In an initially weekly (now monthly) check-in, an automated voice asks him to state his name and repeat five digits. The app is notoriously buggy. ​If it doesn’t detect your voice then it says, ​We couldn’t make out what you said,’ and they order you to let your deportation officer know,” Carlos says. ​One has to immediately call to let them know what is going on. … The first time it happened to me, I felt they were coming for me.”

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