Read the Guest Column by a Former ATD Case Manager in the Miami Herald.

“ISAP is important for the lives of the people seeking a permanent, legal home in the U.S….For every participant enrolled, our first priority was to help stabilize them, to be certain their basic needs were being met… We helped families navigate language barriers and learn their way around food banks and health clinics, connecting them with medical services when needed.”

What is ISAP?

ISAP provides an alternative to detention for migrants apprehended at the border. Established in 2004, the program promotes compliance with immigration obligations alongside basic life needs like housing, nutrition, personal safety, transportation, education, medical and mental health care.

Today Case Managers collaborate with community-based organizations and not-for-profit partners to deliver these critical services in over 80 locations across the nation. 

Of the technology solutions utilized under ISAP, 92.7% of participants use the SmartLINK mobile phone app, which is a communication tool that provides access to case management services 24hrs a day, initiated by the participant using the tool. However, ICE is solely responsible for selecting participants enrolled in ISAP, the technology solution assigned, and the length of its use.

As a contractor to the federal government, BI adheres to strict contract guidelines and oversight, and assists ICE in fulfilling its mission of administering the immigration laws set by Congress. BI’s 1,200 employees are guided by our company’s four primary values: respecting human dignity and rights; providing leading, evidence-based rehabilitation programs; imparting a safe and secure environment; and maintaining quality facilities.

Key Facts

  1. Role clarification. ICE has exclusive authority to identify participants and for selecting the type of services provided, including the type of monitoring, the intensity of supervision and relevant programming decisions. BI staff are not authorized to make any supervision related decisions.
  2. Case Managers Help People. They provide access to legal information and critical stabilization services. Stable and informed participants are more likely to meet their immigration obligations.
  3. Proven Success. ISAP has consistently met ICE objectives over 18 years of operation. Participants attend 97% of their immigration hearings and the overall program success rate is 85%.
  4. Noninvasive. ISAP plans promote compliance with immigration obligations by using the least restrictive options available. 98% of the participant population is not on GPS technology. 95% of the participant population is required to check-in with a case manager once a month or less. ISAP Participants have the option to remotely attend a majority of their meetings using secure video conferencing technology. 

ISAP Clarified

Many myths have surfaced about the ISAP program and BI’s role as a government contractor, as a result of inaccurate media reports and unsubstantiated facts promulgated by politically-motivated advocacy organizations. We want to dispel some of those myths here.

Myth: Technologies physically harm participants.

  • Fact: ICE, which provides all oversight of the ISAP program, “strongly disputes” this claim. Since 2009, BI has conducted extensive GPS device and battery studies. Electronic components are completely encased in plastic and the devices are certified as meeting the safety standards established by Underwriter Laboratories (UL) and Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Group. 
  • Fact: The stored energy, voltage and electrical current contained within an EM device is so low that the human body would not feel it or detect it.
  • Fact: Electronic monitoring (EM) straps are hypo-allergenic, lighter, more comfortable, and less abrasive to the skin than ever before. Non-citizen participants have worn these over the course of hundreds of thousands of hours without a reporting a single heat or electric shock injury.

Myth: Case managers provide insufficient services.

  • Fact: More than 500 case managers take tremendous pride in assisting families by connecting them with vital social services. such services as medical treatment, nutrition, community support, mental health, education, housing assistance, transportation, legal aid, family support, substance abuse treatment and vocational opportunities.

Myth: Case managers function without prescribed protocols.

  • Fact: Employees of BI are not authorized to take action on matters that involve a participants supervision plan. ICE has the sole authority on matters that involve electronic monitoring technology and supervision plans. 
  • Fact: Case Managers take direction from ICE on all supervision matters. ICE has sole authority on matters that involve electronic monitoring, technology and supervision plans.  Case Managers are not authorized to remove technology, change the type of technology or change any portion of the supervision plan.
  • Fact: BI’s case managers receive comprehensive training, which exceeds what is required in the contract with ICE. Training is delivered through a trauma-informed lens, so case managers recognize the health and safety concerns of participants.

Myth: BI abuses personal data collected through EM.

  • Fact: BI complies with all federal privacy laws. BI does not conduct any “surveillance” activities.
  • Fact: As stipulated by BI’s contract with ICE, “The Government Agency owns the rights to all electronic information (electronic data, electronic information systems or electronic databases) and all supporting documentation and associated metadata created as part of this contract. All deliverables (including all data and records) under the contract are the property of the U.S. Government and are considered federal records, for which the Agency shall have unlimited rights to use, dispose of, or disclose such data contained therein…The Contractor shall not retain, use, sell, disseminate, or dispose of any government data/records or deliverables.”
  • Fact: All data collected through EM is the property of ICE, not GEO or BI. Any biometric information collected through technology tools resides solely on the participant’s electronic device and is not transferred, transmitted or downloaded to any other device or system.
  • Fact: When removed from the individual, the device is deactivated and reset to factory settings, which results in erasure of all onboard data including biometric information. 

What is SmartLINK?

  • The BI SmartLINKmobile app provides a secure platform for effective case management and efficient docket management.
  • The SmartLINK-enabled devices are not smartphones and do not have the associated capabilities one would expect from a traditional, consumer smartphone. These devices allow only for program compliance functionality.
  • BI and GEO do not provide devices to participants; ICE assigns them to those it places in the program. The devices that are being utilized by ICE are supervision devices, which allow for individuals who have been placed into removal proceedings by the government to comply with the terms of their release.
  • The SmartLINK app is also available to download to an existing, personal mobile phone of a participant.

Myth: BI Mobile is a smartphone.

  • Fact: No. BI Mobile™ is a handheld communications device that comes with the BI SmartLINK application preinstalled.
  • Fact: ICE officers log into a secure operating system developed by BI, and assign the device to a participant. Once the device is powered on, participants can easily comply with ICE supervision terms.
  • Fact: BI Mobile eliminates the participants ability to: browse the internet, make calls, send or receive text messages, access the app stores, etc.

Myth: BI’s mobile app frequently malfunctions causing immigrants to miss required check-ins.

  • Fact: The SmartLINK application has a 99.9% uptime track record to date.
  • Fact: An average of 88.4% of SmartLINK check-ins were completed successfully over the last five years.
  • Fact: Office visit success rate in 2018 and in 2019 was 98.5%.
  • Fact: SmartLINK is securely operated from two U.S.-based BI data centers, on a proprietary software platform, providing a robust, redundant environment.
  • Fact: System access is secured with the latest technology and controls supporting NIST 800-53 for data protection.