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 a case is resolved, 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. Lawful permanent residents who have been charged with criminal offenses and all undocumented people can also be detained by immigration. 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 Immigration Judges have immense discretion and bond amounts 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 Gainesville, FL, focuses its resources on immigrants from North Central Florida, most of whom are detained in Baker County’s jail facilities.