Immigrant Rights Organizations Call on Biden to Stop Expansion of Surveillance and End the Immigration Detention System as a Whole
WASHINGTON D.C. – Yesterday, Axios reported that the Biden administration is planning an expanded home confinement and curfew pilot program for immigrants seeking asylum or other protection in the U.S. immigration courts.
In response to the reporting from Axios, National Immigration Project (NIPNLG), National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), Detention Watch Network, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), Human Rights First (HRF), Community Change Action, and FIRM Action issued the following statement:
The Biden administration betrayed promises to immigrant communities yet again this week, with news of an imminent pilot program to experiment with even “stricter” monitoring than immigration surveillance programs already in use. The pilot would include a regime of house arrest, curfews, and electronic monitoring for 164,000 people. Though framed as an “alternative-to-detention,” we have no reason to believe this harsh “e-incarceration” program would decrease the number of detention centers or the number of people detained in them. In fact, it would newly place hundreds of thousands of people under ICE’s control. It also goes directly against what the immigrant rights movement has demanded: an end to immigration detention in its entirety.
Make no mistake: surveillance technology expands the carceral state and inevitably reinforces patterns of oppression. The ICE proposal is part of an alarming trend across the country of expanded surveillance of Black and brown communities under the guise of public safety, a trend that Michelle Alexander has called “the newest Jim Crow.” Moreover, reports have already shown that immigrants subject to e-incarceration, including the use of GPS-enabled ankle monitors, experience serious harm to their physical and mental health; lose access to vital economic opportunities for extended periods of time; and remain at risk of sudden incarceration in a detention facility.
This new e-incarceration program would replicate the perverse incentives of private prisons by funneling millions of federal dollars to private companies to provide the surveillance devices. We will only see the same ugly cycle repeat, with those private companies once again lobbying for punitive and dehumanizing policies in order to increase their profit margin.
President Biden campaigned on a promise of reducing detention and ending private prisons – which include immigration detention centers – but thus far has failed. The number of people in immigration detention has instead increased since he took office. Biden must live up to his promises and move swiftly to phase out the use of immigration detention, not increase the number of people living under ICE’s thumb.