More and more, migrants are being detained and held for long periods of time. As we speak, around 18,000 people remain in ICE detention to await their deportation or bond hearings.
Fortunately, there are things we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones from long stretches in detention, and they’re easier than you think. Here are some of the most important facts about immigration bonds that you need to know in 2022.
1. What Are Immigration Bonds?
Essentially, an immigration bond is a sum of money put up on a detained non-citizen’s behalf. This money will be returned to the payer if the detainee shows up for all their court dates and other appointments with relevant US immigration authorities.
Immigration bonds are a way to get somebody out of immigration detention until they have appeared in court. Assuming they appear at every meeting, the money for the bond will be reimbursed to the payer regardless of the court outcome.
Once paid, you will receive an official document from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to confirm that you’ve paid the bond, which you will need to receive an immigration bond refund later on.
2. Who Is Eligible for Bond?
Unfortunately, not everybody detained is eligible for bonds. Some non-citizens are subject to mandatory detention and can’t get out on bond. Most often, people with criminal records will not meet the immigration bond requirements.
However, the majority of non-citizens entering the country (regardless of how) are eligible for bonds.
If ICE decides you or your loved one are not eligible for a bond, you can still request a bond hearing at your first court date. Tell the judge you would like to request a bond hearing as soon as possible, prior to a deportation hearing.
You can also write the judge a bond hearing request letter and send it to Immigration Court, 1 Federal Drive, Suite 1850, Fort Snelling, MN 55111 as soon as possible.
3 . You Can Pay for a Loved One
You can pay immigration bonds for a relative and receive your money back in full if they appear to all of their necessary court dates and meetings. However, the amount has to be paid by a person who is residing in the United States lawfully with a green card or citizenship.
This can be a friend, family member, concerned citizen, or anybody else. If that’s you, ensure you have your social security card, proof of identification, and legal status
Also, try to provide the name, date of birth, and alien registration number of the detainee to the ICE office as soon as possible, and the bond can only be paid with a cashier’s check (money order) and not cash or personal check.
To receive reimbursement later on, you will need to store the original document that you signed at the local ICE office at the time you paid the bond.
4. Detentions Are on the Rise
At the end of last year, ICE detentions were up 56 percent since President Biden took office, which was a slight decline from the summer, where we saw a 70 percent increase.
Either way, detentions are quite high at the moment and are likely to remain high for the foreseeable future.
Also, President Biden recently reinstated the controversial Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which are more commonly known as the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico Policy.”
These policies sent many migrants over the border into Mexico without trial, regardless of their employment or family status.
While Biden has formally denounced this exact policy, his administration is enforcing similar protocols supposedly due to the pandemic.
Also, while Biden has recently moved to officially end the MPP, the Supreme Court agreed to take a case on whether or not it must remain in effect.
5. There Are Minimum Bonds
Currently, the minimum immigration bond is $1,500. Beyond that, bail can be set at any price as determined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
While circumstances may vary widely, the amount set will likely be impacted by a number of factors, including:
- Criminal background
- Previous immigration violations
- Employment history
- Family ties in the US
- Length of time in the US
Other factors may be considered on a case-by-case basis, but these are generally what determines the amount set.
Unfortunately, many families cannot afford to pay these bonds out of pocket, even with a minimum of $1,500. However, most will cost in the range of $14,500, with a maximum set at $250,000.
If you are unable to pay, there are immigration bond services available for qualifying families to help release their loved ones from detention.
6. Bonds Only Require 15% Upfront
If you are required to pay $2,000 for a bond, you will need to pay $2000 to the ICE office initially. However, if the person you bail does not appear for their court obligations when the time comes, you will forfeit the total bond you paid.
Once the case is over, it could take a month to receive your deposit back. After 4 months have passed, if you have not yet received your immigration bond refund, contact ICE or ask your immigration attorney to investigate the situation.
For more information, see the current rates so you know what to expect.
7. Interest Rates Apply
Applicable until March 31, 2022, the current interest rate for immigration bonds is 0.6 percent, which does fluctuate over time as decided by the Treasury Secretary.
Last year, the rates were between 0.15 and 0.9 percent, so they may change in the upcoming quarter. However, there are laws stipulating that the interest rate may never exceed 3 percent.
This means that you will receive your deposit, along with appropriate interest for the amount of time you had to wait for proceedings to take place.
8. Preparing Ahead of Time Is Key
If you have an undocumented friend or relative living in the United States, it is best to develop a bail bonds plan. Around 23 percent of all immigrants in the US have been apprehended by ICE, meaning that your loved one has around a one in four chance of detention.
For that reason, we suggest developing a strategy ahead of time to plan for the worst, as this will limit their time spent in detention. This is especially true if they have to wait for a bond hearing or if they are far away from home at the time of the apprehension.
9. Cases Are Backlogged
The USCIS case backlog has grown exponentially in recent years, reaching more than eight million pending cases at the end of 2021, and seemingly continuing to grow into 2022.
Since the start of the pandemic, embassies have remained closed or inactive around the world, causing greater delays within the US State Department. This has caused serious delays for over nine million green card applicants.
The majority of those waiting are on the family-based green card backlog, while around 1.6 million are waiting on the employment-based backlog.
Of course, that is on top of the already understaffed immigration courts, causing an average of a 58-month wait time for cases. That’s nearly five years.
Unfortunately, without bonds, this often leads to lengthy stays in detention or premature deportation. Fortunately, there are ways to find help.
10. Help Is Available
Lastly, there are options available to detainees and their families looking to pay for these bonds and get their loved ones out of detention. Not everybody has the money to spend upfront.
Believe it or not, there are even national bond fund programs like Freedom for Immigrants. The service seeks to help families of detainees raise money to pay for their bonds.
However, these organizations work on a small scale and have only been able to release around 460 detainees so far.
For a much faster solution, you can compare bail bondsman rates so that you only have to pay a small fee at the end. If your loved one appears to their specific obligations, you’ll only owe a small fee for the services, which requires no large deposit.
Either way, getting them out sooner, rather than later, is important. Due to the backlogs, people can stay in ICE detention for years at a time without bond.
Find Help Today
Now that you know all about immigration bonds, how they work, and what you can do, get your loved one out of detention as soon as possible. Nobody deserves to spend years in detention just to await a hearing. The sooner you find help, the sooner you can get back to your life.
Stay up to date with our latest legal news for immigrants and feel free to contact us with any questions or for help covering your bond!