Millions of immigrants in the US are under some sort of supervision by the Department of Homeland Security.

They regularly report to deportation officers about updates to their immigration court cases, the status of their foreign passports, perhaps a changes of address. Sometimes they have nothing to report. Sometimes they are told to wear ankle monitors so the federal government can track their whereabouts.

To be precise, 2.3 million people are in this system, almost 2 million of them have no criminal record. That’s the number according to a spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in New York City. It’s consistent with a report issued in April by the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security. (For comparison, about 4.5 million people were on probation or parole in the criminal justice system in 2015.)


Of the 2.3 million people, 1.4 million do not yet know if they will be deported and are awaiting the outcomes of their cases.

ICE reported last week that they have arrested 41,000 people in 100 days, a 38 percent increase over the number of arrests this time last year. More people are being held in detention centers, while others are placed on the so-called  “non-detained docket,” and are monitored by the agency via programs like check-ins, often for extended periods of time.

These are people in limbo, as they await decisions from an immigration system plagued by delays. And for many immigrants, it creates very personal — and fairly mundane — questions about moving forward in life.

“When can I ever have kids?” asks 35-year-old Janice Hoseine.

Hoseine’s husband, Ramesh Palaniandi, 38, has been reporting monthly to the federal immigration field office in New York City since he was released from an upstate prison last summer. He is in the midst of a years-long battle to challenge his deportation in courts.

“It’s just like — it’s traumatic, mentally, physically,” she says. “This is not life, this is not the way life should be.”