People held in immigration detention can often be released to their home communities as they await trial—but only if they can afford to pay bond (or "bail"). Our organization pays bond for those who cannot otherwise afford it. Once an immigrant's case is resolved and the immigrant, if necessary, complies with the final order, the bond money is returned (with interest), so we can use it to bail out another person.
Who Is Held in Immigrant Detention?
Any non-citizen without legal status who comes to the attention of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) can be detained for deportation proceedings. This includes lawful permanent residents who have been charged with criminal offenses and all undocumented people. Many detainees are asylum seekers, fleeing from violence in their home countries. Often, immigrants are detained after arrest by local law enforcement, regardless of the severity of the alleged offense. People whose criminal or misdemeanor charges are dropped can still be held in detention for their immigration case.
Why Do We Need an Immigrant Bail Fund?
Immigrants who cannot afford bond remain in jail due to their poverty alone, regardless of alleged "flight risk." The minimum statutory bond amount in immigration court is $1,500, but bond amounts set by Immigration Judges vary widely. While detained, many immigrants lose their jobs, housing, and custody of their children—in addition to enduring the hardship of incarceration.
While people facing jail time for criminal charges have the right to a lawyer, immigrants in detention may never speak to legal counsel. It is extremely difficult for immigrants to find representation from behind bars. Immigrants who get out are five times more likely to find a lawyer; and immigrants with legal counsel are twice as likely to win their cases.
Who do we Help?
The bond fund, headquartered in New Haven, Connecticut, focuses its resources on immigrants from Connecticut, most of whom are detained in Massachusetts county jail facilities.
Who are we?
The Immigrant Bail Fund is a collaborative project involving Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA), Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA), and the Connecticut Bail Fund. We have assembled a Steering Committee with representatives from each of these organizations to set the Immigrant Bail Fund's advocacy agenda and determine how to allocate our funds. Check back soon for personal bios on committee members.
To contribute, you can donate online or by check.
VICE: How America's Bond System Keeps Immigrants Behind Bars
Human Rights First: Lifeline on Lockdown: Increased Detention of U.S. Asylum Seekers
Nolo: Immigration Detention 101
New York Times: Transgender Women Fear Abuse in Immigration Detention