TUCSON, Arizona – Immigration authorities have chosen to put GPS ankle bracelets on the undocumented women who continue to cross the border with their young children.
Central American consular officials in Texas have noted since November that immigration authorities free most women with children that they detain at the border, but not before fastening them with an electronic ankle bracelet.
“We have seen a slight increase in mothers with children crossing the border, and what we have observed is that they are being set free after having one of these ankle bracelets clapped on them,” Allan Perez, Guatemalan consul in McAllen, Texas, told Efe
From Oct. 1 to Nov. 30, the Border Patrol detained 4,575 family units on the southern border and 5,143 unaccompanied minors, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Virginia Rice, spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told Efe that the use of these electronic devices is part of ICE’s Alternatives to Detention Program.
She said they analyze case by case who should given the GPS-enabled ankle bracelets, whose use was approved by Congress in 2002.
According to ICE statistics, this program improves the likelihood of undocumented immigrants showing up in court when they’re supposed to.
Factors considered for the use of electronic monitors include the immigrant’s criminal record, humanitarian concerns and community ties.
Toward the end of March there were approximately 5,100 undocumented immigrants around the country who were being tracked with electronic ankle bracelets.
One of them is the Honduran Nelly Diaz, 29, who crossed the Texas border early this year when she was seven months pregnant and had a little 2-year-old boy.
Diaz, who came to the United States to be with the mother she hadn’t seen since she was 4 years old, remained in ICE custody for two weeks and was later freed on condition that she wore the GPS device on her left ankle.
“They didn’t want to take it off me because I supposedly had five infractions. They say I don’t wear it, but that’s because it doesn’t work properly. They have changed it three times, I never took it off, it’s uncomfortable, it’s very hot and makes me want to scratch myself,” the young woman said.
Diaz said she has to appear before the authorities every Monday and that an ICE official makes surprise visits to her home.
Attorney Alex Galvez, who handles the case of Diaz’s asylum, said that her situation is an example of the poor use of resources.
“She handed herself over to the authorities and has showed up for all her appointments. She doesn’t intend to escape, but they want it to look otherwise,” Galvez said