Immigrant Mothers Forced to Wear Ankle Monitors


Attorneys representing immigrant mothers detained in a South Texas family detention center say the women have been denied counsel and have been forced into accepting ankle-monitoring bracelets as a condition of release, even after the judge has made it clear that paying their bonds would suffice.

The leaders of a volunteer lawyers’ project said that in a letter sent Monday to Sarah Saldana, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they were “dismayed by the lack of transparency, and the coercion, disorganization, and confusion” surrounding recent releases.

Between 70 and 100 women who were called into courtrooms at the Dilley Detention Center Campus last week were told by ICE officials that they could be released with ankle monitors in place of bond, according to a motion filed by R. Andrew Free, a Nashville lawyer working with the CARA family Detention Pro Bono Project.

ICE wants ankle monitors, which use global positioning technology, on the majority of the women released, said Free in an interview.

One of Free’s clients was released under bond, and even though the judge reduced her bond from $7,000 to $1,500, which she planned on paying, a deportation officer said that even after her bond was paid, an ankle-monitoring device would also be placed on her.

In recent weeks, with a federal lawsuit challenging the detention of children, ICE began moving families through the centers faster, allowing many women to receive ankle monitors instead of paying bonds. Last Friday a federal judge in California ruled that detaining children in these centers did violate the terms of a 1997 settlement, and that families needed to be released rapidly.