Tag Archives: immigration

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.
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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.

New Partnership with Southern Coalition for Social Justice

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) and the National Immigrant Bond Fund have formed a partnership to provide legal and bond assistance to persons arrested by local authorities and detained for removal proceedings.

The purpose of the joint project is to:
(A) educate the public about the importance of getting out of immigration detention and obtaining an attorney to have a fair hearing;
(B) call attention to the problems of local enforcement of immigration law; and
(C) provide bond assistance to individuals who cannot otherwise afford to pay an immigration bond.

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice is one of few legal organizations in the south providing pro-bono legal support to immigrants facing deportation; this is particularly significant as undocumented immigrants are not entitled to indigent defense or legal counsel. 

“We are very excited to partner with the National Immigrant Bond Fund – every week I see families whose lives are being torn apart because a father or brother was picked up on a minor and sometimes unsubstantiated charge, and because their immigration status is not current, they are put into removal proceedings without being able to see their families or tie up outstanding obligations. The Bond Fund will help us help more families,” said Marty Rosenbluth, immigration attorney at the SCSJ.

Steering Committee member Paromita Shah On Channel 8 in DC