Action – Ask your legislators to lower minimum bail from $1500 to $100 and to recycle that $1500 into a maximum bail cap.
Advocates say that one of the most effective ways of reuniting children and families is to pay their bail. The minimum bail to rescue a guest of our concentration camp system starts at $1500 a head per federal law and has no upper limit, reaching as high as $250,000. Under Trump, both immigration court judges and ICE officials are increasingly denying bond requests altogether, or setting them at amounts in excess of $10,000, deliberately making them unaffordable for many immigrant families. With all the overcrowding, why so much? After all, CA sets minimum bail for citizens (pg. 14) at $50 for infractions and $500 for misdemeanors. High bail keeps asylum seekers and others locked up in increasingly inhumane conditions at taxpayer expense or forces their families to use predatory bail bond companies with high upfront fees, mandatory ankle monitors and monthly charges. It also sucks away money they need to hire lawyers to help them plead their cases. Let’s ask legislators to fix this nightmare system, reduce the minimum bail and cap the maximum, and get people back with their families.
Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] to ask Rep./Sen. [___] to sponsor legislation to reduce the legal minimum bail required from $1500 to $100 and institute a maximum cap of $1500 for those who pose no danger to the community and little flight risk or who comply with FreedomforImmigrants.org’s bond program requirements.
More script if you’re feeling it: (List the Freedom for Immigrants program requirements)
- recent asylum seeker, who has been persecuted in their home country and detained by ICE within three months of entering the country OR
- persons held in prolonged immigration detention for a minimum of 6 months; OR
- persons living in the country for over 10 years with a strong community presence; AND
- persons who’ve been granted a bond by ICE or an immigration judge in California or Louisiana
Rep. Julia Brownley: email, (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email. (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Who is my representative/senator?: tinyurl.com/Call-Them-On-It
After three decades of expansion, our profiteering detention system now captures and holds as many as 400,000 immigrants each year and the need to rescue people incarcerated in inhumane conditions has never been greater. In May, the El Paso Del Norte Processing center housed as many as 900 migrant detainees in a facility which only has the capacity for 125. Despite federal standards saying that people should generally not be detained for more than 72 hours, some people were held in “standing room only” cells for weeks. The world watched as the most powerful country in the world set up an encampment under a bridge, with men, women and children sleeping on gravel. We need to get people out of detention facilities and reducing punitively high bail amounts set by judges and ICE officials is one step.
(Bipartisan Policy Center (check bias here)) “Immigration detention is the practice of holding individuals in government custody for immigration violations, such as illegal entry or visa overstay, during their removal proceedings. Notably, to remain in the United States without authorization is an administrative violation of the law. For this reason, immigration detention is civil in nature, and therefore distinct from criminal incarceration. Violators are subject to agency regulation and immigration law, rather than criminal constitutional law….”
Who is eligible for a bond? Detained immigrants, including people arrested in ICE raids and mothers separated from their children at the border, sometimes have the opportunity to be released on a cash bond — which is like bail — while fighting their immigration cases. An alien may be granted a bond if the judge determines that
- the person is not at flight risk and will attend all future court hearings.
- the person is not deemed a danger to the community and/or is rehabilitated after any crimes which might have been committed in the past.
- the person has relief from removal. The greater the chance for that person to win the immigration case, the more likely the judge is to give a lower bond
Who is not?: Noncitizens with certain criminal records or drug offenses are subject to mandatory immigration detention under INA § 236(c), 8 USC § 1226(c). This means that they do not even have the right to a bond hearing. They will remain detained during their entire immigration case, which can take weeks, months, or sometimes years. More information on this issue here and here.
Alternatives to Detention: (from Detentionwatchnetwork) Alternatives to detention encompass a wide range of mechanisms used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ostensibly to provide assurance that someone who is not detained will fully participate in their immigration court proceedings. ICE’s official alternatives or conditions of release include:
- Parole/release on own recognizance
- Check-ins at ICE offices
- Home visits and check-ins
- Telephonic monitoring
- GPS monitoring through an electronic ankle bracelet
With the exception of bond and parole, nearly all of these methods are subcontracted out to subsidiaries of The GEO Group, Inc. (GEO), a private prison company. Behavioral Interventions (BI), a subsidiary of GEO, has administered other alternatives through a program called the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP) since 2004.
Since late 2014, parole has been increasingly ignored for those who make it through the initial screening, leading to the long-term detention of most asylum-seekers…
Other potential alternatives include ensuring that someone has legal representation and providing community based support by organizations with proven experience delivering social services for immigrant communities. Although some non-profits are creating these kinds of post-release support, they are not currently included in the official alternatives administered by the government.
As a basic litmus test for whether or not they are being used correctly, alternatives must always decrease the number of people in detention. Instead, as ICE’s budget for alternatives to detention has increased, so has its budget for detention.
Where to donate for bail
- Freedom for Immigrants
- This article has a number of national and state bail funds listed at the bottom.
- (CA fund) Bay Area Immigration Bond Fund
- (CA fund) Immigrant Families Defense Fund
- (CA fund) The Orange County Justice Fund
- Advocates say the fastest way to help immigrants separated from their children: Post their bail. (marketwatch.com)
- Freedom for Immigrant’s National Immigration (freedomforimmigrants)
- Trump’s child detention camps cost $775 per person every day (gq.com)
- Immigration detention in the United States: A primer (bipartisanpolicy.org)
- Mandatory Detention (DetentionWatchNetwork)
- Facts about mandatory detention (DetentionWatchNetwork)
- Three-fold difference in immigration bond amounts by court location (TRACImmigration)
Under Trump, higher immigration bonds mean longer family separations (NPR)
- Fact Sheet: Prison Industrial Complex(21012) (nomoredeaths.org)
- Immigrant Detention, Private Prisons, and Minimum occupancy Quotas (nnirr)
- Profiting from enforcement: The role of private prisons in U.S. immigration detention (migrationpolicy.org)
- Do private prisons affect criminal sentencing (anderson.ucla.edu)
- Immigration detention in the United States: A primer (bipartisanpolicy.org)
- Does detaining an immigrant for a year cost 4 times federal spending on a child in public school? (politifact.com)
- Global Detention Project (globaldetentionproject.org)
- 3 facts to know about immigration bail bond cost (actionbail.com)
- About Bail – How Immigration Bail Bonds Work (aboutbail.com)
- Shakedown – How deportation robs immigrants of their money and belongings (nomoredeaths.org)
- Nearly 900 migrants found at Texas facility with 125-person capacity: DHS watchdog (abcnews.com)