June 9, 2017
By FRANK BAJAK
HOUSTON (AP) — The Trump administration is shutting down the least restrictive alternative to detention available to asylum-seekers who have entered the U.S. illegally in what it calls a cost-cutting measure that will favor programs with higher deportation rates.
Immigration activists consider the move a callous insult to migrants fleeing traumatic violence and poverty — nearly all the program’s participants are Central American mothers and children — by a White House that has prioritized deportations that break up families over assimilating refugees.
“This is a clear attempt to punish mothers who are trying to save their children’s lives by seeking protection in the United States,” said Michelle Brane of the nonprofit Women’s Refugee Commission. “I think it’s crazy they are shutting down a program that is so incredibly successful.”
The overwhelming majority of asylum-seekers that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spares confinement at family detention centers — about 70,000 —have been placed in an intrusive “intensive supervision” program as they await court hearings on whether they can stay in the U.S.
GPS ankle monitors are strapped on three in seven. The wearers, mostly women, complain of bruises and public ostracism.
The Family Case Management Program that is being shuttered had 630 families enrolled as of April 19. Essentially a counseling service, it has operated in Chicago, Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Baltimore/Washington, D.C., since January 2016 and the contract was renewed in September for one year. Social workers help participants find lawyers, navigate the overburdened immigration court system, get housing and health care, and enroll the kids in school.
Women who previously would have been eligible can now expect to be put on ankle monitors, said Lilian Alba, program manager at the International Institute of Los Angeles, one of the community-based agencies running the program.