Across the U.S., an electronic surveillance system, built on ankle monitors and voice- and face-recognition technology, is tracking an increasing number of asylum seekers and people seeking permanent residency in the country. For many, it feels like they never left prison.

ICE spokespeople and officials at the Department of Homeland Security espouse the technology-driven approach to immigration enforcement as a kinder, gentler alternative to physical detention. But for people like Ssemanda, there was nothing humane or gentle about the ankle monitor. It merely shifted the boundaries of incarceration from cell to self.

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.