While Biden defends electronic bands as alternative to detention, advocates urge proper legal help for immigrants show up to court.
Immigrants in America who are forced to wear electronic ankle monitors suffer from an emotional, mental and physical toll, which includes trouble sleeping, mental health problems, problems at work and thoughts of suicide, a new report reveals.
The news comes amid an effort by the Biden administration to boost the use of the monitors as an alternative to putting people in brick-and mortar prisons as they await the outcome of their immigration cases.
The details are in Immigration Cyber Prisons: Ending the Use of Electronic Ankle Shackles, an upcoming report from the Benjamin N Cardozo School of Law, Freedom for Immigrants, and Immigrant Defense Project.
Immigrants interviewed for the report painted a dire picture of their lives under surveillance: 12% considered suicide as a result of being monitored, and 88% spoke of mental health issues, trouble sleeping, migraines and depression.
“I was really shocked when the findings came in with this report,” said Layla Razavi, deputy executive director of Freedom for Immigrants. She said that she had been familiar with ankle shackling for two decades and found the monitors harmful, but didn’t understand the extent of how “traumatizing and abusive” the practice was until she saw the statistics.
Electronic ankle monitors, which track geographical information, have long been used in the criminal justice system, and in the past 20 years, by immigration authorities. But as politicians are calling for the end of immigrant detention, and the Biden administration ends contracts to hold immigrants in local jails, the conversation is shifting to boosting funding and participation in US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s alternative for detention, using the longstanding Intensive Supervision Assistance Program (Isap).
The program uses electronic ankle monitors and phone apps to track people who would otherwise be incarcerated.
By Sarah Betancourt for THE GUARDIAN
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