The U.S. uses ankle monitors to track immigrant mothers

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a high-tech way to track people who enter the country illegally: Instead of putting them in jail as they move through the court system, officials outfit them with ankle bracelets. And most of the people who are currently wearing the devices in the U.S. are moms.

Since 2004 the ICE, which is under the Department of Homeland Security, has used monitoring devices to track immigrants and make sure they appear at their court dates. But in recent years the practice has been specifically catered to immigrant mothers so they can continue to care for their children and officials don't have to worry about them trying to flee the country. An ICE spokesman said that as of July, 7,440 immigrants across the country were wearing monitoring devices.

The Village Voice reports on the program, which is called Alternatives to Detention. In addition to wearing the GPS-enabled monitors, those wearing the bracelets are also required to report to the ICE every week and must allow ICE to come into their homes. If detainees cross state lines, the bracelets will also beep loudly and play a message telling them to return home.

The prevalence of such devices has come to light recently as New York City has launched something called the "surge docket," a way to speed up the trials of immigrants who are minors. Different groups say the devices are unconstitutional and are trying to ban their use, while others say that it's a fiscally responsible alternative to incarceration—a bracelet costs only $4.50 per day, compared to $120 for detention. [Village Voice, New York Times]


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Image: Douglas C. Pizac/AP