Tag Archives: bond

About the Bond Fund

En español

The National Immigrant Bond Fund closed at the end of January, 2011.  We successfully loaned all our money to help detained immigrants post bond, and have a fair day in court.  We thank the hundreds of individuals who donated to the project; our local nonprofit partners who worked with the detainees and their families; and, our hard-working steering committee.  Staffing for the project was supported by generous grants from the Open Society Institute, Four Freedoms Fund, and the Hildreth-Stuart Foundation.

What was Our Mission?

All people in America, including immigrants, deserve basic human rights and dignity. This includes the right to legal counsel, ability to communicate and visit with children and families, and humane treatment in custody.

The National Immigrant Bond Fund reaffirmed the values of dignity and due process by helping immigrants detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions to post bond quickly to secure a fair hearing in America’s courts.

The Challenge

ICE agents and local police conduct workplace raids and other enforcement actions across the country without accountability.  They detain and separate hard-working immigrant parents from their children.  Detainees who can not afford the bond for release are in accelerated deportation proceedings – with little opportunity to contact their families or legal counsel.

People who are detained by ICE need to post bond immediately to establish immigration court jurisdiction in the district where they were arrested, and avoid ICE’s rapid transfer of detainees outside the district. Posting bond also improves the detainee’s ability to present his/her case before a judge.

Our Response

  • We helped immigrants who were swept up in ICE and local enforcement actions.  When a person who is detained by ICE pays an immigration bond, s/he can be released while the case is pending.  The Bond Fund worked with local nonprofits to provide a matching loan to help eligible immigrants post bond.  The immigrant’s family or friends raised a portion of the bond money too.
  • We worked to build public support for immigration reform by focusing on harsh immigration enforcement tactics, and the lack of rights afforded detainees.
  • We supported local communities’ efforts to respond effectively to ICE enforcement actions.

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.

Bond Fund helps Ramona Estrada keep her family together

Jacobo Jr. and his parents, celebrating his first birthday.

Ramona Estrada was born and raised in Texas.  Her son Jacobo Diego, Jr. was born March 21, 2008 in Laurel, Mississippi.  Baby Jacobo lived with his mom, and his dad, Jacobo Sr., who worked at the local factory to support the family.   When Jacobo Jr. was six months old, Immigration agents raided the Howard Industries factory, and put Jacobo Sr. in immigration detention.

Jacobo Diego Sr. is a citizen of Mexico.   He was put in removal proceedings.   “I couldn’t believe I couldn’t help him in any way,” said Ramona.  “I thought because I was a US citizen I could help.  I couldn’t believe the law was that way.”  Ramona had to take care of everything alone, with her newborn son.  On the weekends, she drove four hours each way with the baby, to visit Jacobo Sr. in detention.  Ramona worked, paid the bills, paid the rent, and paid a babysitter.  “I didn’t go out much.  It was too hard to see families together.”

After two months in detention, Jacobo Sr. was in bad shape.  Something at the detention center bit his leg,and he was put in isolation.  He was in pain, confined, and it was nearly impossible to meet with a lawyer to discuss his deportation case.  He missed his baby.  Ramona recalled, “One time he called crying, and I knew I had to figure something out.  That’s when I found El Pueblo, and the Bond Fund.”  The National Immigrant Bond Fund helped Ramona and Jacobo pay half their bond, and Jacobo came home to be his family while his case was pending in immigration court.

Paying the bond allowed Jacobo the opportunity for a fair hearing, and gave the family time to organize their lives.  In the end, the immigration judge ordered Jacobo to leave the United States.  He and his family left on August 4, 2009.   Ramona said, “I’ve never been to Mexico.  My father came to this country for better opportunities.  He doesn’t want me to go there.  I am doing this for my son, to keep the family together.”

“The Bond Fund helped me have a fair hearing for my case.”

Guadalupe spent 28 days in a Texas immigration detention center:  “I worked at Bianco (New Bedford, MA factory) from 7:30 in the morning until 11:00 at night.  When the immigrations agents raided the factory, they came in fast, yelling and cuffing people.  I just watched – what could I do?  They kept us for hours in the cold factory, and threw us food to try to eat with our hands cuffed.  They took away our cell phones and our personal items.  They put us on a bus to Ft. Devon, and took our fingerprints at 3:00 in the morning.  Then they bussed us again, this time to an airport.  Even on the plane, I didn’t know where I was going.  It was the immigration detention center in Port Isabel, Texas!  At the detention center, the immigration agents kept telling me to sign some papers.  They said I was crazy to fight my case, and that I would be stuck there a long time.  I worked for $1 a day cleaning the bathrooms to earn money to buy a calling card, and I called a friend for help.  The Bond Fund helped me pay the bond, so I could go home, find a lawyer, and have a fair hearing for my case.”

New Bedford “I couldn’t understand why Immigration would use these tactics.”

Juan:  “Most of the people caught up in the raid at New Bedford were indigenous people from Guatemala.  We are 99% orphans – our parents were killed in the early 1980’s, when the Guatemalan government targeted indigenous people.  We came here because we heard about “human rights” in the United States.  I saw the TV news coverage of the raid, with images of people boarding the plane for Texas in shackles, and I couldn’t understand why Immigration would use these tactics.”

Juan’s wife Juana G. spent eight days in a regional detention center until the Bond Fund helped them pay the bond.  Now it is easier for her to meet with her lawyer and prepare her case.