The Refugee and Immigrant Center For Education and Legal Services (RAICES) has paid $2.1million to free around 200 detained immigrants.
Approximately 25,00 people donated to the fund. The money will pay the bond for immigrants in ICE detention across 20 states. The non-profit teamed up with other organizations including the National Bail Fund Network, as well as volunteers to make the payments on November 20. Officials were still processing payments on Wednesday afternoon. The group said they expected centers to start releasing some people as early as Wednesday evening.
RAICES described it as one of the largest coordinated bond payments in a single day.
The group, which is based in Texas, aims to help immigrants win their cases. They also hope to draw attention to the number of immigrants detained in ICE custody. They state on their website that “On any given day in the U.S., there are over 50,000 people in immigration detention, including children. In the last several months, over 55,000 asylum seekers have been returned to Mexico to wait in dangerous conditions.”
Interim director of the bond fund, Blake Vera, points to bond as a significant problem faced by those detained. He said, “It’s ridiculous that people are coming to this country to seek safety, and they’re having to pay these outrageous amounts of money. We’re stepping in to eliminate that financial obstacle.”
The group argues that immigrants are more likely to win their deportation cases when they’re not detained. This is because detention makes it harder to access lawyers and to gather evidence.
ICE however, has defended its use of bonds
“Bond decisions are based on an alien’s flight risk, and the potential threat to public safety. Each case is reviewed individually, taking into account factors like immigration history, criminal history and community ties.”
However, RAICES and other organizers made payments ranging from $1000 to $25,000, which is an incredibly difficult sum to get hold of whilst fighting deportation.