ICE Is Holding $204 Million In Bond Money, And Some Immigrants Might Never Get It Back


Publish Date:
April 26, 2019
The Washington Post
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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is holding on to more than $200 million in bond money that belongs to immigrants who have been in the agency’s custody, cash that has yet to be returned to thousands of immigrant families or the U.S. citizens who bailed them out, according to data obtained through open-records requests.

The unreturned bond money stood at $204 million as of July 31, 2018, according to the data, which immigration-law clinics at Stanford University and the University of California at Davis obtained and shared exclusively with The Washington Post. The pot of money grew by $57.3 million between September 2014 and July 2018, the data shows.

“The toll on a poor family having to pay thousands of dollars in bond can’t be overstated,” said Jayashri Srikantiah, director of Stanford’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. “Clearly, something is breaking down when there are hundreds of millions of dollars sitting in an account that belongs to those immigrant families. If nothing else is clear, that is clear.”

Srikantiah and Holly S. Cooper, co-director of UC Davis’s Immigration Law Clinic, said they intend to push for congressional oversight of ICE’s bond system. They said the amassing of bond money indicates a serious problem and could amount to a massive theft from people who can least afford it.

Cooper and Srikantiah said they believe that working with an attorney is crucial to recovering the bond money, and many immigrants and those who post the bonds don’t have lawyers or can’t afford one.

“While something like $5,000 or $10,000 might not be a lot of money to the federal government, to an individual family that has pulled all of their money together in order to get a loved one out of detention, it’s an incredible amount,” Srikantiah said. “With detention growing at the rate it is, we think this is a really good time for Congress to provide some oversight and actually investigate why this is happening.”

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