New ICE Program Tracks Undocumented Immigrants With Ankle Monitors - NBC Bay Area
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New ICE Program Tracks Undocumented Immigrants With Ankle Monitors

It's an alternative to waiting for trial in a detention center, ICE says

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    New ICE Program Tracks Undocumented Immigrants With Ankle Monitors

    NBC 7 spoke with an undocumented man who is in the new program. (Published Monday, March 19, 2018)

    Undocumented immigrants facing removal from the U.S. have the opportunity to stay at home while their cases wait to be heard by a judge. 

    As part of a new option, they can choose an alternative detention program. It means that while some undocumented immigrants wait for their day in court, which can take months and even years in some cases, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is monitoring them. 

    One man who is in the program spoke with NBC 7 Monday on the condition that his identity remain hidden because he fears for his safety. He was pulled over by ICE in Escondido while driving his kids to school last Thursday. 

    The 40-year-old father was one of nearly 120 people ICE says were arrested as part of a targeted operation last week. He does not have a criminal record. 

    According to the man, ICE took him into custody. 

    "I was thinking it was a police officer," he said. "Then they told me they had a warrant for my arrest." 

    He was released on the condition he signs up for a monitoring program. He told NBC 7 he is one of a few who are taking part in a pilot program, which includes a GPS ankle bracelet and a monitoring app. 

    A spokesperson for ICE said the new program involving the ankle monitor is called Smart Link. It was launched last month.

    They added less than 130 people are part of the program nationwide. 

    A local immigration attorney, Andres Moreno II, says he prefers the program for his clients over being held in a detention center because clients can have a more active involvement in their own defense. 

    Clients have active involvement in thedri cases they can bring me
    what htey need to help defend themselves,
    without me having to go all over the state to go 
    see a client that got picked up by ICE.
    As an example this last week I was in adelanto on Friday
    to see a client.

    Others in the program are monitored by checking in with a phone call. 

    ICE added there is a criteria for those selected and each case is looked at individually before a decision is made. 

    The man NBC 7 spoke with said one big draw back of the program is that he cannot work while in it.