This January, many immigrants and would-be immigrants to this country were hoping for kinder, gentler immigration policies once the new presidential administration took charge of the government.
Those sitting in detention after being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may have been particularly hopeful that their situation would improve. Many of these immigrants are stuck in detention because they cannot afford the painfully high bonds it would take to gain their release until their cases can be heard by a judge.
The minimum is $1,500, but there’s no real maximum
The Department of Human Services (DHS) sets the bonds, and federal law requires a minimum bond of $1,500 — but there’s no real guidance beyond that point. Bond amounts began rising under the Obama administration and increased sharply under the Trump administration. The Biden administration has yet to take action that would reverse the trend.
The net effect, according to data collected by both academic organizations and advocacy groups, is that there can be a huge disparity between bond amounts with no standard practices.
In a city like Chicago that is friendly toward immigrants, a bond under $5,000 is common, while a “good” bond in Arizona might be $18,000. One Minneapolis attorney reported that his client — detained now for 46 months over a 2009 drug possession offense — finally got a bond for $100,000.
Many immigrants desperate to get out of detention and back to their families have turned to predatory bail bond agents that charge exorbitant monthly fees, which only makes their financial situations even harder.
When you’re facing detention and possible deportation
Every immigrant to this country has a unique story — and unique challenges. If you’re facing possible detention and deportation, find out what you can do to better secure your future right away.