A True Alternative to ICE’s Harmful Surveillance Programs

Concern is growing over Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) dramatic expansion of its electronic surveillance of noncitizens in our communities through various “Alternatives to Detention” (ATD) programs. ATD includes electronic surveillance using ankle monitors (also known as “ankle shackles”) and other forms of GPS monitoring.

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Ankle monitors and other GPS monitoring cause lasting psychological, physical, and societal harms to migrants and their families, including immobility, difficulty providing for oneself and finding legal counsel, stigma, and even retraumatization in some cases.

In our work providing legal services to thousands of immigrants facing detention and removal, Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition has seen the serious harm caused by ICE’s surveillance programs. The core problem is that most of ICE’s current “Alternatives to Detention” are really alternative forms of detention. That is, they are an extension of ICE’s invasive and harmful control over noncitizens’ bodies, their families, and their communities. Instead of increasing funding and developing technological capabilities to extend and deepen ICE’s surveillance web, true alternatives to detention should be available to asylum-seekers and other immigrants in the U.S.