GOP Bill Would Force Undocumented Parents To Wear Ankle Bracelets

'It smacks of the darkest days of the 20th century,' one immigrant rights advocate tells Vocativ. 'It's absolutely disgusting.'

U.S. Senator John Cornyn — REUTERS
May 16, 2017 at 2:51 PM ET

There’s no provisions for a border wall or sanctions against businesses that hire workers living in the country illegally. But a new immigration bill being hammered out by a pair of prominent Republican lawmakers would force the mothers and fathers of undocumented teens to wear electronic monitoring devices.

The requirement is one of several harsh measures that Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Mike McCaul, both of Texas, are considering as they seek to ramp up immigration enforcement and border security. A draft of the legislation, first reviewed by the Washington Post on Tuesday, shows that it would also strip federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities, lock up immigrants for a minimum of five years if they illegally re-enter the U.S. after being deported, and reimburse governors who opt to send their state’s National Guard to patrol the border.

But the proposed plan to outfit parents of undocumented teens with ankle bracelets — purportedly to ensure that their children don’t avoid scheduled deportation hearings — drew searing condemnation from immigrant rights advocates.

“It’s absolutely disgusting,” David Leopold, an immigration attorney in Cleveland and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told Vocativ. “It smacks of darkest days of the 20th century and some of the world’s most oppressive regimes. These lawmakers should be ashamed of themselves.”

The sweeping bill, which has received input from the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security, according to the Post, is likely to face an uphill battle in Congress. Even if it manages to clears the Republican-dominated House, Senate Democrats have indicated that they will not work with the GOP on any immigration legislation that does not include a path to legal status for the nation’s 11 million undocumented residents.

Prominent anti-immigration groups have also criticized the Republican bill for its failure to target employers who hire illegal workers.

“Without measures to address illegal employment, this bill will fail to attract support from people concerned about illegal immigration, and if enacted, it will fail to make much of a difference,” Jessica Vaughan, the policy director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for reduced levels of immigration in the U.S., told Vocativ in an email.

Vaughan added she was not in favor of using electronic monitoring to track undocumented immigrants awaiting deportation.

“This is a very expensive option that does not have a track record of success,” she said. “A better solution would be to speed up the processing of these cases and perhaps offer repatriation assistance combined with the prospect of tough enforcement, including detention, for those who do not comply with their final order of removal.”

Beyond its potential flaws and inflammatory proposals, the immigration bill is also drawing attention because of the authors behind it. Cornyn, Texas’ senior U.S. Senator, was in the running to succeed former FBI Director James Comey before officially pulling himself out of consideration on Tuesday. McCaul, head of the House Homeland Security Committee, has been on the fence regarding President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a border wall, despite being an outspoken immigration hawk.