Feminist Fuck Yeah: First of Its Kind Bail Fund Helps Indigent Immigrants Post Bond

The Trump Administration’s persecution of immigrants has become daily news. But a first of its kind effort in Connecticut is giving me hope.

The Immigrant Bail Fund, launched last week in New Haven, is a 501(c)(3) that accepts donations to post bond for immigrants who can’t afford it. The fund has already had a tangible impact on the life of one undocumented woman, M-A-, who was bonded out just last week and—full disclosure—is my client. M-A- sat over nine months in a local jail in Bristol, Massachusetts, on a bunk bed just a few feet from dozens of other immigrant women there for the same reason—because the government is trying to deport them. She came from the Dominican Republic without papers in the late 80s and has spent nearly three decades of her life in Massachusetts, where she’s built her life with her family. She’s also profoundly mentally ill. While an immigration judge set her release on bond for the minimum $1,500, she still languished away in prison for nearly a year simply because she lacked the means to afford her freedom.

Thanks to the Immigrant Bail Fund, M-A- is now out on bond and reunited with her family. But her story is one of many thousands of immigrants held weeks or months in detention while awaiting trial. There is currently no right to an immigration attorney in this country. Many people don’t even have a right to a bond hearing to argue that they are neither a flight risk nor a danger. Those fortunate to get a bond hearing might spend weeks or even months longer in detention solely because they cannot afford their release. About one in five immigrants who are eligible for release remain in jail simply because of their indigence.

It should come as no surprise that the same private prison industry, including corporations like CCA and GEO Group, that profits off debtor’s prisons is also making millions off criminalizing immigrants. My fear is that under Donald Trump’s new executive orders on border security and internal enforcement, there will be thousands more people like my client, including asylum seekers at the border and long-term residents of this country—individuals not even convicted of a crime—detained by the government.

The Immigrant Bail Fund won’t change who gets detained but it will help keep individuals like M-A- from languishing in detention away from their families while fighting their deportation. I can think of no more meaningful way to have a direct impact on an immigrant’s life—and showing Trump we won’t accept his inhumane policies without a fight—than by donating for someone’s freedom. You can join the fight here.

Ed. note: This post was originally published on the Community site.

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