The government is giving immigrant families released from Texas detention facilities free cell phones.
The criteria used to determine who will be offered the phones are those who are considered low flight risks and unlikely to pose a danger to the community, according to Fox News.
So far, 25 families have been offered the phones, which aren’t your run-of-the-mill phones — they’re Samsung Galaxy 4 smartphones — and the program is understandably coming under fire.
Surprisingly, even immigration advocates are critical of the program, saying they fear immigration officials may use them to monitor the immigrants’ movements.
“It is concerning whether the women are being tracked through their phones and whether their communications with councel are confidential,” Jonathan Ryan, executive director of Raices, a San Antonio-based immigrant legal advocacy group, told the Los Angeles Times.
Immigration officials, however, deny the phones will be used in such a manner.
But those on the other side of the illegal immigration issue fear that offering free cell phones may be an added incentive for further illegal border crossings.
That’s exactly the concern of the Center for Immigration Studies executive director Mark Krikorian. He fears that once word gets out, our neighbors to the south will start believing that instead of getting deported, “they are getting a phone for free.”
Fox News reported:
Immigration advocacy groups, however, said they would have preferred having some control over the phones. But immigration officials were quoted by the Times as saying that GEO Care had presented a proposal for the program that “was the most comprehensive and cost-effective.
The immigrants are part of hundreds of families that have arrived along the border in recent months and taken to two Texas detention centers. Nearly 25,000 people, mainly in family units, have been caught at the southern border from October through January, according to the Times.
And the phones’ recipients are understandably thrilled to receive a new smart phone.
“They told me I was selected because I have small children and for my case, because I was a victim of domestic violence,” Yaneth Guevara Leyva, who arrived in the United States with her two small children, told the Times. “I was surprised because I thought I would get ankle monitors.”
She indicated that she’d been treated well by immigration officials.
“They tell us not to be afraid; they say they’re here to help us. I feel good about it,” she said.
Well, I guess.
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