US deportation agents use smartphone app to monitor immigrants

Ecuadorian immigrant Neptali Chiluisa shows the app that he uses for reporting his location to Immigration authorities in New York. US immigration authorities are turning to smartphones to keep tabs on immigrants and ensure they attend their deportation hearings. — AP

LOS ANGELES: US authorities have broadly expanded the use of a smartphone app during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure immigrants released from detention will attend deportation hearings, a requirement that advocates say violates their privacy and makes them feel they’re not free.

More than 125,000 people – many of them stopped at the US-Mexico border – are now compelled to install the app known as SmartLink on their phones, up from around 5,000 less than three years ago. It allows officials to easily check on them by requiring the immigrants to send a selfie or make or receive a phone call when asked.

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