What is the Fair Fight Bond Fund?
The Fair Fight Bond Fund is the only community-sourced immigration bond fund based in Washington State and the Pacific Northwest paying to release people from the violence and injustice that is immigration detention.
As a network of community activism rooted in the direct requests of immigrants and detained people, the Fair Fight Bond Fund provides support in and outside detention through physical, emotional, linguistic, and financial assistance. We exist to provide hope and comprehensive support to detained immigrants with the goal of freeing people from detention, reuniting them with their loved ones, and working toward a larger vision of eliminating detention centers altogether.
This fund is an initiative of the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (WAISN).
Who is WAISN?
The Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (WAISN) is a multilingual, multiethnic, multi-issue, multifaith coalition and network of over 400 immigrant leaders, allies, and immigrant-serving organizations, that supports and builds power for immigrants and refugees across Washington State through direct services, education, organizing, policy, advocacy, and funding. Find out more at www.waisn.org.
What is a bond?
A bond is a cash deposit made with the government on behalf of a person detained in an immigration case that acts as a guarantee that the person will show up to all subsequent legal immigration proceedings once released from government custody.
Not all detained immigrants are granted the opportunity for release under a bond. For those who are, paying bond opens up a pathway for community members to fight their immigration cases outside of detention—which increases their chances of successfully fighting deportation.
Where does the money come from?
This work is resourced entirely through community-driven fundraising initiatives and donations from individuals and organizations who fundraise in solidarity against predatory private bond companies and state-sanctioned violence as a practice of mutual aid, economic justice, and community self-defense.
In cases we have paid bond for, we can receive a refund plus 2-3% annual interest from the Department of Homeland Security after there is a resolution in the case. Refunded bonds will be used to pay bonds for other people who are in immigration detention.
How will my donation be used?
All donations received will go towards paying bond for people detained by immigration authorities. 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.
Why is the Fair Fight Bond Fund needed?
Many people 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 are Fair Fight Bond Fund’s long-term goals?
The mission of the Fair Fight Bond Fund is to channel resources of the immigrant justice movement in Washington State to liberate immigrants and refugees from detention as a strategy for defense against deportation.
The goal of the Fair Fight Bond Fund is to ensure that all those granted a bond option can take advantage of it. Furthermore, once our community members get released, the Fund will work in conjunction with WAISN partners to:
- Meet the basic needs of bond recipients and ensure they get back to their loved ones safely
- 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.
Who does the Fair Fight Bond Fund support?
Anyone detained by United States immigration authorities in any part of the country who has had a bond set that they do not have resources to pay is eligible to receive support from the Fair Fight Bond Fund.
We will consider all applications received but will give priority to people detained in Washington State and the Pacific Northwest or who have connections to Washington State and the Pacific Northwest.
We believe that nobody should be detained and that detention is unjust and dangerous. However, due to limited resources, we cannot cover every request that we receive. We will give priority to people who face exacerbated vulnerabilities in detention due to any of the following situations:
- People with serious physical or mental health disabilities, chronic illnesses, pregnancy, or in need of urgent medical attention;
- Primary caretakers of dependents—particularly minors, elders, and/or people with serious disabilities or chronic illnesses—who are facing immediate hardship due to the applicant’s detention;
- People who identify as queer or transgender;
- People who face exacerbated vulnerabilities in detention based on their gender, sexuality, language, faith, or other identity factors;
- People who have been detained for more than 3 months by any federal, state, or local law enforcement agency.