chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
January 25, 2023 RAPID RESPONSE

Electronic Monitoring of Migrants: Alternative to Detention or Just Another Form of Punitive Custody?

This webinar discusses the dramatic rise in the use of electronic monitoring of migrants, including through ankle monitors and phone app technology. It asks whether electronic monitoring presents a positive move away from immigration detention for migrants or instead expands government deprivation of liberty by increasing the number of migrants impacted and the length of time they remain in some form of custody. Our panel also examines the cost and effectiveness of monitoring as a means of fulfilling the purported justification for both detention and monitoring–ensuring that migrants appear for their immigration proceedings. In doing so, the panelists consider electronic monitoring of migrants carried out by private companies in the context of the “What Works” literature on the management of pre-trial situations. Finally, the webinar offers migrant perspectives on the experience of living with electronic surveillance and considers negative consequences of widespread monitoring, including medical and other impacts.


  • Dr. Scott A. Allen, Medical Director, The Access Clinic, University of California, Riverside School of Medicine
  • Dr. Austin Kocher, Research Assistant Professor, Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
  • Dr. Carolina Sanchez Boe, Carlsberg Fellow, IMC, Aarhus University, Affiliate of The Social Anatomy of a Deportation Regime, City University of New York
  • Dr. Dora B. Schriro, Special Advisor, ABA Commission on Immigration; Corrections Expert and Advisor


  • Denise L. Gilman, Director, Immigration Clinic, The University of Texas at Austin School of Law; Clinical Professor, The University of Texas at Austin School of Law; Member, Immigration Advisory Commission, ABA Commission on Immigration; Liaison to the ABA Commission on Immigration, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Joint Sponsor: ABA Commission on Immigration


Legal Resources and Guides

American Bar Association, Civil Immigration Detention Standards

New York Stop Immigration Bond Abuse Act,  (prohibiting bond companies from imposing electronic monitoring devices)

United States v. Torres, 566 F.Supp.2d 591 (W.D.Tex. 2008) (in criminal pre-trial context, requiring individualized determination of need for electronic monitoring under constitutional liberty standards)

Shokeh v. Thompson, 369 F.3d 865, 871-72 (5th Cir. 2004), withdrawn on other grounds by Shokeh v. Thompson, 375 F.3d 351 (5th Cir. 2004) (requiring individualized determination regarding need for conditions on release)

Stanford Law School Immigrants' Rights Clinic, Guide:  How to Request Removal of Your Ankle Monitor

Mijente, Just Futures Law, CJE, SmartLink Best Practices

Organizational Reports

American Immigration Council, Alternatives to Immigration Detention:  An Overview (March 17, 2022)

T. Giustini, S. Greisman, P. Markowitz, et al., Immigration Cyber Prisons: Ending the Use of Electronic Ankle Shackles (2021)

Center on Privacy & Technology, American Dragnet: Data-Driven Deportation in the 21st Century (2022)

Center for American Progress, Immigrants and Asylum-Seekers Deserve Humane Alternatives To Detention (July 13, 2022)

Just Futures Law, ICE Digital Prisons (2021)

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, Family Placement Alternatives:  Promoting Compliance with Compassion and Stability through Case Management Services (2016)

Mijente, Tracked & Trapped: Experiences from ICE Digital Prisons (2020)

Public Law Project, Bail for Immigrant Detainees, and Medical Justice,  Every Move You Make: The Human Cost of GPS Tagging in the Immigration System (Oct. 2022)

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, ICE Alternatives to Detention Program Continues Its Expansion (Nov. 2022)

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Alternatives to Detention (2022)

Vera Institute of Justice, The Appearance Assistance Program (1998)

Freedom for All, Testimonies

Detention Watch Network, The Case Against “Alternatives to Detention” (Dec. 2022)

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Immigrants Monitored by ICE’s Alternatives to Detention Program Vary by Nationality, Gender, and State

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Nearly 500,000 Immigrants Go Through ICE’s Alternatives to Detention System in Two Years (Oct. 20, 2022)

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, ICE’s Sloppy Public Data Releases Undermine Congress’s Transparency Mandate  (Sept. 20, 2022)

Government Sources

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Alternatives to Detention Fact Sheet (2022)

US DOJ, Office of Inspector General, Contract Number COW-6-C-0038 with the Vera Institute of Justice, Report I-99-04 (March 31, 1999).

Academic Articles

C. Arnett, From Decarceration to E-Carceration, 41 Cardozo Law Review 641 (2019)

C. Sanchez Boe, Expanding Penal Landscapes into Immigrant Communities: Digital ‘Alternatives’ to Detention in the USA (Jan. 28, 2022)

C. Sanchez Boe, “Fighting border control in three sites of confinement: The uses and experiences of prison, detention, and electronic monitoring for foreign-nationals in New York” in: Champ Pénal: “Contestation et subversion dans les institutions d’enfermement”, eds: Joel Charbit, Martine Kaluszynski and Gwenola Ricordeau (Dec. 2020)

S. DeStefano, Unshackling the Due Process Rights of Asylum-Seekers. 105 Virginia Law Review 1667 (2019)

Mark Noferi and Robert Koulish, The Immigration Detention Risk Assessment, 29 Georgetown Immigration Law Journal 45 (2014)

J. Pittman, Released into Shackles: The Rise of Immigrant E-Carceration. 108 California Law Review 587 (2020)

Recent Press Reports

Texas Public Radio, Conservative Group Targets Migrant Cell Phone Data at NGOs, Raising Privacy Concerns (Jan. 6, 2023)

In These Times, “The App ICE Forces You To Download Under Biden, monitoring of immigrants by cell phone has jumped 808%” (Sept. 26, 2022)

The Guardian, "Constantly Afraid:  Immigrants on Life under the U.S. Government’s Eye"(March 8, 2022)

The Guardian, Poor Tech, Opaque Rules, Exhausted Staff:  Inside the Private Company Surveilling US Immigrants (March 7, 2022)

Support CRSJ

CRSJ provides free webinars and resources for legal professionals and advocates nationwide and relies on generous donor support and volunteer service. Your charitable gift ensures that we continue to address the deepening crises in our collective pursuit of advancing law and justice. Thank you!

Give Generously – Donate Today