Compromised Liberty: Ankle-Tracking and Curfews

by Yiyi Zhang

“Okay you’re free to go! But you are required to wear a GPS ankle tracking device and be home no later than 7PM every day.”

Immigrants caught in the US detention system face long terms in prison-like conditions. Among those detained are survivors of torture, political asylum seekers, individuals with mental incapacities or medical conditions, and families with small children. It is unnecessary and unjust for the DHS to indiscriminately detain persons who pose no threat to the security of the nation or its communities.

As an alternative to detention, individuals who have been released by ICE may be placed on an order of supervision (“OSUP”).  Those who are released are required to report periodically to immigration officers or to comply with other requirements set forth in the OSUP.

The most severe of these possible requirements is enrollment under the ICE’s Intense Supervision Appearance Program (“ISAP”), a program allegedly developed to simplify the monitoring those in removal proceedings. Some participants of ISAP wear GPS devices on their ankles, allowing ICE to keep track of their every movement, so that individuals who do not obtain relief from removal can be apprehended immediately. Often, they are forced to obey a home curfew, effectively placing them under house arrest for large portions of their days (for instance from 7PM to 7AM).

ICE has the authority to enroll any individuals in removal proceedings in ISAP. Participants, rather than face detention in prison-like conditions, are forced to agree to 24-hour GPS monitoring and mandatory curfews.

This program is an unnecessary burden on a majority of non-criminal immigrants, or those who have only committed minor offenses. By indiscriminately forcing individuals to wear GPS bracelets, a policy usually only applicable to flight-risk felons on bail in the criminal justice system, ICE is unjustly depriving immigrants of their dignity and rights to liberty.

(below) This is a graphic representation of the detention continuum created by the Detention Watch Network comparing an ideal Alternatives to Detention Program to the reality of the ICE programs today.

Alternatives to Detention

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