Immigration Law

Bound to Pay: For-Profit Ankle Monitors - Helpful Service or Debt Trap for Desperate Immigrants?

Gus Bova, Texas Observer, Sept. 26, 2017 - "Libre claims it’s helping immigrants by getting them out of detention when no one else will. “Our mission is to give hope to those who have lost it and to help those without a voice in the immigration system,” the company proclaims on its website. But critics say Libre is predatory — extracting whatever profit it can from a vulnerable population.

“They found a niche in the market that no one else was in,” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, an attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center, a Virginia-based nonprofit that obtained a trove of records about Libre in 2016. “And when you’ve got that, you can charge whatever the heck you want, and people who are extremely desperate will pay it.”

According to a 2015 lawsuit, the devices cost the company only $3 a day, though Libre charges its customers $14 a day.

Critics have long accused Libre of profiteering from desperate immigrants, but a class action lawsuit filed in February on behalf of three Libre clients goes further. It calls the company’s basic premise — that it’s charging immigrants for GPS monitoring — a “sham.”

“[Immigrants] are not in actuality paying $420 a month for rental of an ankle bracelet,” the suit states. “Rather, they are paying (excessively) for [Libre] to indemnify their immigration bail bond.”

In other words, the suit alleges Libre isn’t actually interested in monitoring immigrants; rather, it uses the devices as a pretext to levy exorbitant fees."