Photos: Immigrants arrive at Sacred Heart shelter tagged with tracking devices

A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement wasnâ??t immediately able to comment on the tracking devices.

Immigrants have started arriving at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen with familiar black tracking devices affixed to their ankles.

Volunteers at the Sacred Heart shelter say immigrants tagged with the bulky black tracking devices started arriving last week.

Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley opened the Sacred Heart shelter last summer, when a Central American immigrants started pouring through the Rio Grande Valley. Many immigrants, including women with small children and unaccompanied minors, simply surrendered to Border Patrol en mass after illegally crossing the Rio Grande.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement started releasing women with children, leaving them at the downtown McAllen bus station.

Volunteers at Sacred Heart didn TMt encounter immigrants with tracking devices until about December 2014. They TMve appeared sporadically since then, but hadn TMt been spotted at Sacred Heart in several months.

Update: Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a statement Wednesday afternoon.

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program is a flight-mitigation tool that uses technology and case management to increase compliance with release conditions and facilitate compliance with court appearances and final orders of removal while allowing participants to remain in their community as they move through immigration proceedings," the statement said.

"When making release determinations, ICE officers review cases individually and enroll eligible individuals, including adults with children, in the ATD Program as deemed appropriate. Currently, individuals apprehended and released from ICE custody from sites along the border may be enrolled in ATD and assigned GPS monitoring to ensure compliance with instructions to report to the designated ICE office nearest their destination city. Upon arrival at their final destination, the local ICE office responsible for managing their case will make any further determinations with regards to continued enrollment in the ATD program and the appropriate level of case management."

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