Category Archives: NIBF Steering Committee

Andrea Black of DWN talks to the Bond Fund about Arizona

Bond Fund:  First of all, full disclosure:  Andrea is on our Steering Committee.  Thank you Andrea, for all your time and expertise these last two years with the Bond Fund.  Can you talk a little about your background?

Andrea Black:  I’m the Network Coordinator at the Detention Watch Network.  Prior to that I worked as an attorney at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Arizona, which assists and represents immigrants detained in Arizona.

BF:  What are your primary concerns about the new law in Arizona?

Andrea Black:  It is tearing apart families, and it violates our Constitution and international human rights law.  Clearly it increases the likelihood of arbitrary arrests and detention.  Once a person is detained, the likelihood of finding an attorney plummets.  Detained cases move quickly, and its very hard to gather witnesses, evidence, and put together a case.

BF:  What is happening locally with immigration enforcement in Arizona?

Andrea Black:  As a result of expanded ICE enforcement collaboration with local police, there is already a lot of immigration processing at local county jails.  The new law puts more power in the hands of local police to ask for papers, make a determination, and immediately hand someone over to ICE for deportation.  A person who can not show documents may be offered no options other than signing a stipulated order of removal, and getting on a bus to leave the country right then and there.  People don’t know what they have signed, and attorneys can’t get there fast enough.

BF:  Does Arizona have the capacity to detain all the people who could be arrested?

Click here to watch a video of Andrea Black

Andrea Black:  No, the detention system in Arizona is already out of control, with ever-expanding bed space, poor conditions,  and limited access to family and counsel that further isolates the detained person.  The expansion of the prison system on the backs of immigrants is lining the pockets of private prison executives, and ultimately the community pays the cost.

BF: How isolated are these detention centers?

Andrea Black: The Eloy detention center, for example, is out in the desert, an hour and a quarter from Phoenix.  Its very isolated, with limited visiting hours and no public transportation.  Families who travel from Phoenix to visit loved ones in detention will pay $200 for a taxicab.  When people are released, they are let out the door, with no way to get anywhere.

BF:  Do you have hope for the future of immigration enforcement and policy?

Andrea Black:  Communities are up in arms.  People are educating themselves, asking questions of their elected officials, making demands to keep their communities and families safe.  Here is the potential for reform.   What can we do to support it?  We can get the word out, share stories, and help people get out of detention for a fair hearing.

BF:  Thank you Andrea, for your part in helping people come together to call for reform.

For more information on the Arizona immigration law and how it will impact detention and deportation, check out DWN’s “Detention and Deportation Consequences of Arizona Immigration Law (SB 1070)

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Bond Fund to NPR on bail: “When it comes to immigration, the practice is even worse.”

Photo by Katie Hayes for NPR

Listen to National Public Radio’s report here (click arrow below):

Sarah Ignatius of the Policital Asylum/ Immigration Representation Project, and NIBF Steering Committee member, writes to National Public Radio regarding their segment on bail:

Last night NPR reported that two-thirds of the nation’s jails are filled with non-violent offenders who cannot afford to pay their bail, costing American taxpayers $9 billion in 2009.   Jails hold people who have been accused, but not convicted, of a crime.   In addition to being incredibly expensive, NPR reports, the system is unfair to the poor people who can’t make bail:  there are less consequences for crimes if a person can bail out.

When it comes to immigration, the practice is even worse. Hardworking immigrants whom Immigration Judges have found not to be a flight risk or a danger to the community nevertheless end up with bonds too high to pay. The national average exceeds $5,000 each. Yet

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these people are not charged with a crime, often are sole wage earners in families with US citizen children and if released from immigration detention would do no more than return to their families and communities. Locking them up under high bonds does little more than break

up families, cost taxpayers huge sums for needless detention and prevent immigrants from having a fair day in court.  It is difficult to obtain an attorney, hard to gather evidence or put together a case, and there is always the risk of transfer to a far-away detention center.  Unlike criminal court, immigration court does not appoint an attorney to a person who can not afford one.

Thank you NPR for raising these important issues about detention, fairness, and the costs to the American taxpayer!  We hope your series

will further explore the special interests that keep people in detention, and the success of alternatives to detention.   At the National Immigrant Bond Fund, we help people post bond, to give them the chance to have a fair hearing.  Fairness is an important value in our country that we must all fight to uphold!

Gillette Stadium arrest raises queries about agency’s tactics

AP Photo: Stadium crew member Kale Henley paints finishing touches on the NFL playoff logo at midfield in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010.

Bob Hildreth in a Letter to the Editor of the Boston Globe:

THE JAN. 7 arrest of workers on their way to shovel snow at Gillette Stadium has been compared to the New Bedford factory raid of March 2007 for the large number of people arrested and for the questions it raises about the priorities and tactics of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“Detained immigrants were set to clear Gillette snow,’’ Page A1, Jan. 8). Let’s hope the similarities stop there.

Shortly after the New Bedford arrests, ICE began to transport the factory workers in shackles, on a plane to a Texas detention center. Far from home, the workers were effectively denied access to their attorneys, visits from their families, access to evidence, and a chance at a fair hearing.

I helped post bond for the New Bedford factory workers, to allow them to return to our community for a chance at a fair hearing. The hearing does not guarantee anyone can stay in the country, but it helps us avoid the mistake of quickly deporting people who are here legally or are eligible to stay.

In April 2009 ICE announced a shift away from workplace raids that primarily target employees. The agency has also indicated it will focus on dangerous criminals, and consider alternatives to detention where there is no threat to the community. We hope this recent on-the-way-to-work raid does not signal a slip in ICE’s stated priorities, and that ICE will not compound this slip with unnecessary detention or transfer to faraway facilities.

Bob Hildreth
Chairman National Immigrant Bond Fund
Boston

National Immigration Project’s New Advisory on Conducting Bond Hearings Regardless of Transfers

Guest post by Trina Realmuto of The National Immigration Project (supporter and steering committee member of the Bond Fund):

The National Immigration Project hears about many problems with the detention system, including problems about bond hearings.  One scenario that we often hear about is as follows: a request for a bond hearing is filed with the immigration court where the person is detained, but before the hearing is held, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) moves the person to a new detention facility.  As a result, the bond hearing is cancelled because the immigration judge believes he or she does not have the authority to hold the hearing.  The detainee then is forced to wait until a new bond hearing is scheduled in their new place of detention.  If the detainee is represented, the representative may not be able to travel to the new place of detention to be present for the bond hearing.

Here is a classic example of what we hear has been happening.  Immigration officials arrest and take Susan into custody in Charlotte, North Carolina on Friday afternoon.  On Tuesday morning, Susan’s family hires an attorney in Charlotte and that attorney files a request for a bond hearing with the immigration court in Charlotte on Wednesday afternoon.  The hearing is set for Friday morning.  On Thursday afternoon, ICE moves Susan to a new detention facility in Georgia.  At the hearing on Friday, the immigration judge tells Susan’s lawyer and her family that he has no power to decide whether Susan should be released on bond because Susan is no longer detained in North Carolina.  Susan, or her representative, again must request a bond hearing in Georgia.  The new hearing is scheduled for the following Thursday.  At that hearing, Susan is released on bond.  Significantly, Susan spent a total of fourteen days in detention, including six extra days waiting for her bond hearing and must now travel back to her family in North Carolina.

We wrote the practice advisory, “Immigration Court Jurisdiction to Conduct Bond Hearings Regardless Whether DHS Transfers Respondent After the Hearing Request is Filed” (PDF), model brief and sample letters to help expedite bond hearing for legal representatives and detainees.  The sample letters can be used to request a bond hearing.  The model brief explains why immigration judges have the authority conduct bond hearings even if the detainee has been transferred to a new facility.  We hope that legal representative and detainees can use these materials to convince immigration judges to conduct their bond hearings promptly and that ICE will consider the fact that a bond hearing request has been filed and/or a bond hearing has been scheduled before deciding to transfer someone.

I’ve worked in this field for many years and have felt frustrated by this far-too-frequent situation faced by people in detention. This advisory is one step in changing this unjust process.

New reports confirm reason for founding of the Bond Fund

Statement from NIBF steering committee chair Bob Hildreth:

Last week the national scope of what we have witnessed in Massachusetts was exhaustively documented by Human Rights Watch, the Constitution Project and TRAC in several new reports.  When a factory was raided in neighboring New Bedford, MA two years ago, I was shocked by how quickly Immigration and Customs Enforcement put 200 workers, shackled head to toe, on chartered airliners and flew them to Texas prisons.   I have seen how transfer of immigrant detainees denies them their due process rights, and wastes our money.

In response to the New Bedford raid, I decided to do something about the situation faced by my immigrant neighbors in our nation’s detention and enforcement system.  I founded the National Immigrant Bond Fund to bail out people in similar situations so that they could have their day in court. Donations go directly to help a detained immigrant post bond.  When their case is completed, the money returns to the Bond Fund to help another person.

I later learned that the transfer of the New Bedford factory workers to Texas cost the government $200,000 plus additional costs when they flew 40 back to Massachusetts upon their release on bond.  The facts these reports uncover should wake up Americans to just how our tax dollars are being used to deny people a fair day in court. And we should do something about it.

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Bond Fund founder Robert Hildreth profiled in Chronicle of Philanthropy

A Once-Quiet Donor Learns the Power of Publicizing Philanthropy

By Caroline Preston for the Chronicle of Philanthropy

Robert Hildreth used to be quiet about his philanthropy. But that changed when federal immigration agents raided a leather factory in New Bedford, Mass., on a March day two years ago, arresting hundreds of illegal immigrants as they stitched clothing and equipment for American soldiers overseas.

When Mr. Hildreth — a Boston banker who made a fortune selling bonds in Latin America during the 1980s and ’90s — heard reports that workers were being handcuffed and shipped to detention centers hundreds of miles from their families and lawyers who could represent them, he took action.

“I was furious at Immigration for sending these people far away,” he recalls.

Read the rest of the article here.

Steering Committee member Paromita Shah On Channel 8 in DC