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Electronic Anklets Track Asylum Seekers in U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security is experimenting with a controversial new method to keep better track of immigrants who are applying to remain in the United States. It is requiring aliens in eight cities to wear electronic monitors 24 hours a day.

The ankle bracelets are the same monitors that some rapists and other convicted criminals have to wear on parole. But the government's pilot project is putting monitors on aliens who have never been accused of a crime.

So far, the Department of Homeland Security has put electronic monitors on more than 1,700 immigrants. Victor Cerda, director of Detention and Removal Operations at Homeland Security, says the anklets will help prevent tens of thousands of immigrants who are ordered to leave the country each year from "absconding" -- going into hiding to avoid deportation.

But critics say Cerda and other Homeland Security officials have exaggerated the extent of the problem. They point to a Justice Department study that put part of the blame on immigration officials, saying they'd failed to keep adequate records to track aliens.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Daniel Zwerdling is a correspondent in NPR's Investigations Unit.
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