Friday, February 23, 2024

ABA Commission on Immigration Report “Electronic Monitoring of Migrants: Punitive not Prudent” Released


ABA Report Criticizes Widespread Electronic Monitoring of Migrants

A report released today by the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration criticizes the U.S. government’s electronic monitoring of migrants and recommends that the program be curtailed. The report, “Electronic Monitoring of Migrants: Punitive not Prudent,” is available here

Three law students with the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law  —  Muskan Momin, Alice Min and Niko Marcich drafted the report.  They worked under the supervision of Professor Denise Gilman and received input and guidance from Dora Schriro, special adviser to the Commission on Immigration.

The report calls electronic monitoring “de facto detention” that imposes “a significant financial cost on taxpayers and a considerable human toll on the participants and their family members.” Such monitoring is unnecessary, the report concludes, because most migrants “present neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community to justify either detention or electronic monitoring.”   As currently used, electronic monitoring of migrants is punitive, the report says, because it is imposed without objective assessment of need or risk and may violate constitutional guarantees of liberty and due process.

The report proposes that electronic monitoring be “significantly reduced and only used in extraordinary cases."

Electronic monitoring of migrants began in 2004 and was significantly expanded in recent years. As of December 2023, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was electronically monitoring more than 190,000 migrants. A 2022 study showed most of those being monitored were asylum seekers from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

"Electronic monitoring is not used as a true alternative to detention but a net-widening expansion of detention,” the report concludes. “The use of electronic monitoring should be reevaluated and limited.” 



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This report has limited value because it just evaluates the effectiveness of electric monitoring on ensuring court appearances. Migrants have no reason to avoid court appearances when an asylum grant is possible ---- unless a loss is likely to result in deportation. The meaningful question is, will they leave if their asylum applications are denied and they become subject to a final order of deportation. And the ABA acknowledges that they don’t have information on that issue.

“Because ICE primarily reports data on compliance with requirements to appear at Immigration Court hearings, it is not possible to know whether and to what extent monitoring facilitates actual removal, when ordered.”

Posted by: Nolan Rappaport | Feb 24, 2024 1:06:26 PM

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