FASCIST TOY OF THE WEEK
DEFENSE TECH - There's a new Homeland Security Department push underway, to require immigrants in eight cities to wear Sopranos-style electronic ankle bracelets. "But the government's pilot project is putting monitors on aliens who have never been accused of a crime," NPR reports.
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.
Despite the uncertain rationale, NPR notes, if the program is deemed a success, "Homeland Security might require every non-citizen who's applying to stay here to wear a [ankle] montior, at least for a while -- unless they're waiting in jail."
"It's not just immigrants," the Washington Monthly observes, pointing to an article from a couple of weeks back in the Sacramento Bee:
"Educators in a small Sutter County school district gathered electronic tracking devices from hundreds of elementary and junior high school children Wednesday morning, ending the controversial pilot program that raised concerns over Big Brother-type privacy violations. At a special meeting the night before, officials from locally based Incom Corp. announced that they were pulling out of an agreement with the Brittan School District near Yuba City that allowed them to test the devices on the students. The company markets the badges, which have a radio-frequency antenna that is scanned when students pass through specially outfitted doorways, as a tool for taking attendance and monitoring students' locations.