ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said in a statement that the agency would review the claims and "respond directly" to the lawyers. "ICE takes very seriously the health, safety and welfare of those in our care," the statement added.
Between 70 and 100 women were called into courtrooms at the 50-acre Dilley campus last week and told by ICE officials that they could be released with ankle monitors in lieu of bond, according to a motion filed by R. Andrew Free, a Nashville lawyer working with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project.
ICE appears to want ankle monitors, which use global positioning technology, on the majority of women released, Free said in an interview. The agency's actions "are misleading people about their rights," he said.
Three women wearing ankle monitors waited Monday in a San Antonio home for the bus tickets that would get them to family members in other cities. One woman, who asked to be identified only by her first name of Eliud out of fear of reprisals, said that she left Honduras with her two teenage sons, who were being forced into a gang.
She said she would rather not be wearing the ankle monitor, which itches her skin and keeps her up at night, but wasn't given a choice.
"When people see me, the first thing they see is this [ankle monitor], and they think I am a criminal," she said.
Laura Lichter, a Denver immigration attorney volunteering at Dilley, said that in her 20 years of practice she has never seen ICE add a monitoring device or impose other conditions after an immigration judge has set bond. She said the bracelet monitors were cumbersome, conspicuous and required constant charging and were another tacit attempt at deterrence.
"There is a stigma," Lichter said. "Everyone is going to think that they are criminals."
Free said his client was among those called into a courtroom to sign the agreement, though a judge had recently reduced her bond from $7,000 to $1,500, which she'd planned on paying. A deportation officer said that even after her bond was paid, an ankle-monitoring device would also be placed on her, according to the motion. She asked to speak to her lawyer but was denied. Two similar situations were cited in affidavits, and Free added that he has heard of at least a dozen similar cases.