Rep. Stewart: Ankle monitors could solve border crisis of families being separated

Jun 18, 2018, 11:14 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2018, 1:30 am
U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing center in McAllen, Texas. (Provided by U.S. Customs a...
U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing center in McAllen, Texas. (Provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
(Provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Instead of separating families that enter the U.S. illegally, Utah Congressman Chris Stewart says putting ankle monitors on the parents could solve the problem.

“That would allow them to stay together as families and be in the community,” the Republican representative said, “but at the same time, we would know where they were and that they would then come and show up for their detention hearing.”

The proposal comes as concern grows for thousands of children who have been taken from their parents because of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. Stewart said keeping track of the adults is much cheaper than building and staffing more detainment facilities.

“We can keep someone on an ankle bracelet for about $7 or $8 a day,” he said, referring to estimates he’s received from federal courts. “To put them in a detention center is $50 per person. So I think it’s much, much more efficient if we could do this.”

Stewart emphasized that the bracelets would not be used on children. He plans to sponsor an amendment, containing the monitoring provision, to a federal immigration bill up for discussion this week.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing center in McAllen, Texas. (Provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Also on Monday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement saying its position on immigration reform is that families should be kept together.

“The forced separation of children from their parents now occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border is harmful to families, especially to young children,” the statement from spokesperson Eric Hawkins said. “We are deeply troubled by the aggressive and insensitive treatment of these families.”

Hawkins went on to say, “While we recognize the right of all nations to enforce their laws and secure their borders, we encourage our national leaders to take swift action to correct this situation and seek for rational, compassionate solutions.”

The Department of Homeland Security said on Monday that the children who’ve been separated from their parents are cared for using “high standards” including meals, education and medical care.

“This entire crisis is not new, it’s been occurring and expanding over decades,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. “Currently, it is the exclusive product of loopholes in immigration laws that prevent immigration minors and family members from being detained and removed to home countries.”

As long as entering the U.S. illegally is a criminal offense, Nielsen said the Department of Homeland Security will not look the other way as they enforce the current laws.

“We have repeatedly called on Congress to close loopholes,” she said. “I, myself, have met with as many members willing to meet with me. I’ve testified seven times. I will continue to make myself available to ask that they work with us to solve this crisis.”

Related: These Republicans have criticized Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy

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Rep. Stewart: Ankle monitors could solve border crisis of families being separated