Tag Archives: detention

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.

Due Process for Detainees in the USA

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) will begin a review of human rights practices in the United States later this year.  Here is an excerpt from a report submitted this week to the UNHRC, by the National Immigrant Justice Center and 25 other organizations.  It highlights the primary concern of the Bond Fund:  it is difficult to have a fair hearing in immigration detention.

The Right to Due Process

Although U.S. law provides noncitizens a right to counsel in removal proceedings, the statute prohibits funding of counsel “at government expense.” Despite the efforts of NGOs and volunteer lawyers to fill this gap, 84 percent of noncitizens facing removal lack representation. Unrepresented noncitizens include vulnerable populations such as unaccompanied minors, asylum seekers, torture survivors, or trafficking victims. For example, studies have found that asylum seekers are almost three times more likely to be granted asylum if they are represented by counsel than if they appear pro se in immigration hearings. By allowing noncitizens representation but at no government expense, the United States effectively limits representation to noncitizens who have, or are capable of locating, the financial resources to secure counsel on their own.

For many noncitizens, isolation in immigrant detention facilities compounds their inability to locate legal counsel. Noncitizens apprehended by immigration authorities are often moved to facilities hundreds or thousands of miles from the location of their arrest, even if they have well-established family and community ties there. Most immigrant detention facilities are located in remote areas, prohibitively far from cities where most pro bono attorneys or even private attorneys work. Even detained immigrants who manage to obtain representation may be transferred to immigrant detention facilities so far from their attorneys that they are forced to terminate the representation. In some cases, the rapid transfer of detainees between facilities creates situations in which attorneys cannot track and locate their own clients.

Noncitizens must have competent representation to have a fair day in court. Immigrants without legal counsel who pursue their cases in immigration court often face lengthy and arbitrary detention. The complexity of the system and the fear of prolonged detention results in noncitizens unintentionally signing away their rights and unknowingly agreeing to deportation. For example, noncitizens routinely sign stipulated removal orders, waiving their right to see a judge, without understanding that the legal consequences include deportation. Of the 80,844 stipulated orders of removal signed between April 1997 and February 2008, 94 percent were signed by immigrants who spoke primarily Spanish, and most had not been charged with a crime.

For the full report, go to:  http://www.immigrantjustice.org/resourcespolicy/detention/upr.html

January 16, 2010 – National Day of Action in Phoenix, Arizona

For more information, click image above or see Puente’s website.

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.

Give now by clicking here

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.