What is the purpose of the Fund?
The Fair Fight Immigrant Bond Fund provides bond money for low-income individuals detained at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA.
How will the Fund get replenished?
At the resolution of a case, the Fund will apply for its refund from the Department of Homeland Security. The refund plus 2-3% annual interest will be returned to the fund and will be used to pay bonds for other detained individuals.
What is a bond?
A bond is a cash deposit made with the government on behalf of an individual detained in an immigration case. It acts as a guarantee that the detained individual will show up to all subsequent legal immigration proceedings once released from government custody. So long as the individual appears at all proceedings and obeys all judge’s orders, the bond is returned with 2–3% annual interest—regardless of the outcome of their case. If the individual fails to appear or obey orders, the bond is forfeited.
How will my donation be used?
All donations received will go towards paying bond for eligible detainees at the NWDC in Tacoma. With the exception of credit card/donation processing fees, 100% of your donation will go towards their bonds. Our current goal is to raise $100,000 to seed the Fund and provide a select amount of bonds for detainees around the holidays. As we receive more funding, we will increase our bond payments. We estimate that around 250 people remain in detention annually because they’re unable to pay their bond.
What are Fair Fight’s long-term goals?
The ultimate goal of the Fair Fight Immigrant Bond Fund is to ensure that all those granted a bond option can take advantage of it. Furthermore, once individuals get released, the Fund will work in conjunction with WAISN partners to:
- Ensure individuals have sufficient access to legal and community resources over the course of their legal proceedings
- Simplify, explain, and support logistical planning for court proceedings
This approach will support Fair Fight’s longer term goals for recipients and the Fund:
- An immigration case success rate (i.e. able to remain in the US) of at least 68%
- Refunds of at least 86% of capital lent out
- A forfeiture rate (i.e. no refund) below 14%
Why is the Bond Fund needed?
Many individuals detained in immigration cases can’t afford the high cost of posting bond. Immigration bonds on average cost between $5,000 and $12,500, and can range up to $25,000. For many low-income individuals this expense is prohibitive. An estimated one-in-five individuals who are granted a bond option remain incarcerated because they can’t afford the cost of the bond. At the Northwest Detention Center this equates to approximately 250 people each year.
There are enormous benefits accrued to an individual, their family, and their community, when they are released from a detention center during their immigration proceedings. These include:
Inability to pay bond can lead detainees to prolonged detention or voluntary deportation. Conditions at the Northwest Detention Center have been called “inhumane,” with many of the 1,432 individuals detained staging hunger strikes to protest the substandard living conditions. No individual should have to endure such hardships in order to avoid deportation.
Individuals released on bond have a high likelihood (68% in 2016) of successfully defending their case and remaining in the U.S. This is in large part due to the individual’s ability to freely access key resources to build their best legal defense. Non-detained individuals are five times more likely to have counsel. Represented individuals are ten times more likely to succeed. People released from immigration detention are two times more likely to win their immigration case even if they do not find a lawyer. They are twenty times more likely to win their immigration case if they do.
The individual can return to their homes, be reunited with their family & friends, and continue to work and live in their communities throughout the proceedings.
Those who can’t afford the bond sometimes contract with for-profit bond securers (e.g. Libre by Nexus). Detainees who use these services can face years of abusive practices (e.g. electronic ankle bracelets) and sky-high interest payments. They typically end up paying thousands of dollars per year in interest—money they never get back.
It costs the U.S. taxpayer an estimated $145 per day to house one detainee at the Northwest Detention Center. Releasing detainees in Tacoma who can’t otherwise afford the bond would save an estimated $13 million per year in taxpayer expenditures.
What is WAISN?
The Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (WAISN) is the largest immigrant-led coalition in the state. Its mission is to protect and advance the power of immigrant and refugee communities through a multiracial, multilingual and multi-faith coalition and an organizing strategy that educates and mobilizes statewide to uphold and defend the rights and dignity of all immigrants and refugees, centering the voices of impacted communities.