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RE: [Border01] Millionaire posts bond for ICE detainees

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  • Shannah Kurland
    Hi - thanks for putting out the word about the opportunities and challenges with the National Immigrant Bond Fund. We ve just started drawing down from the
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 8, 2008

      Hi -

      thanks for putting out the word about the opportunities and challenges with the National Immigrant Bond Fund.  We've just started drawing down from the fund here in Providence (RI) following a July 15 attack on 31 janitorial workers in the state courthouses, and maybe some lessons/observations from it would be helpful.  So far, 9 people here have used it to make bond payments, and here's what we've learned:


      1.      Knowing about it/how to access it:  This seems like the biggest challenge.  I read Maria's quotes below, and that doesn't surprise me.  We only found out about it by luck, because we were working with Greater Boston Legal Services, and they've been involved in it since it started with the New Bedford raid.  So, a question is, how do they need to get the word out, especially to grassroots organizations?  I suggested they talk with folks at NNIRR, and this list serve could be a big help.  And not just knowing that it exists, but who to contact, and what the process is.


      2.      Getting a local host organization confirmed:  In our case in Providence, this has been the Olnevyille Neighborhood Association, which happened partly cause of our work on a Red de Defensa project, but also because each of the groups that actually has a 501c3 was equally strapped, and one was already managing the support fund for families, so we agreed to take this part on.  It needs to be a 501c3, and they prefer if there's a religious person involved somewhere, but I don't know if that's a specific requirement.  Note – the group that handles the donation is also supposed to deal with submitting the bond – so you have to have one or more persons with papers, transportation and a flexible schedule to be the “obligor.”  A lot of folks already figure out how to make that happen, so this isn't necessarily a new thing. 


      3.      Paperwork – this part was frustrating because it kept developing as we were going through the process, but hopefully, it's pretty well established now and if they can go over that with local groups up front, it shouldn't be a problem.  Acess to a fax machine and email definitely are key.


      4.      Cash flow – this is another big challenge, as i see.  The way it's set up, the local organization collects the ½ from the family, deposits it in the bank, and gets the cashier's check for the full amount.  So far, this means fronting the money for the other half and then getting reimbursed.  You can imagine – if you have several people needing to post bond at once, depending on how many people, and what the judge ate for breakfast the day s/he sets the bond, this can be an impossible amount.  We were just lucky that we had ½ the year's budget on hand, because usually, most of our groups don't have that kind of cash flow.  I think it's probably good for that to get established up front – how long is the turnaround time for reimbursement?  I know they have the ability to wire money so it could happen pretty quickly, just needs to get spelled out. 


      Anyway, hope that's useful.  I would definitely recommend that groups that think they might want to access the funds to get in touch and see if you can get the process set up before a crisis hits, although i realize that these days, the attacks are constant and that moment to catch up or prepare doesn't always happen.  The best email contact i have for someone working on administering the fund is: henry_der@...


      I don't have an actual phone number for the folks adminstering it, but i would assume there will be one available as they go national.  One last thing, from the article below and from what the people at Greater Boston Legal Services told us, the fund has an interest in building support toward the larger struggle around immigrant rights.  In that case, i think it's critical that people on the front lines, including so many of you on this list serve, get in the mix to share the experience and frustration and vision that comes out of the communities directly under attack.  In other words, the money is a big help, but it also should/could be a way to help shape the debate. 


      Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or feedback on all of this. 



      shannah Kurland

      Asociacion de Vecinos de Olneyville

      Providence, RI



      To: Border01@yahoogroups.com
      CC: Abeltranjurisdr@...
      From: abeltranjurisdr@...
      Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2008 13:21:18 -0400
      Subject: [Border01] Millionaire posts bond for ICE detainees

      http://www.chron. com/disp/ story.mpl/ metropolitan/ 5929129.html


       http://www.chron. com/disp/ story.mpl/ metropolitan/ 5929129.html

      Fledgling fund helps illegal immigrants post bail

      When federal immigration agents raided a Houston rag factory and took
      166 suspected illegal immigrants into custody, a Boston philanthropist
      and multimillionaire was ready to chip in bond money to help the

      Robert J. Hildreth, 57, is the public face of the National Immigrant
      Bond Fund, a fledgling organization that helps immigrants swept up in
      Immigration and Customs Enforcement workplace raids post bonds.

      The controversial fund has the backing of major immigrant advocacy
      groups and religious leaders, but has drawn criticism from anti-illegal
      immigration organizations.

      Since spring 2007, the fund has paid more than $180,000 to bond out
      immigrants snared in ICE raids in California, Massachusetts and

      Word of the fund is spreading, but not quite fast enough for some
      immigrants caught up in the recent crackdown on businesses that hire
      illegal immigrants. In the past nine months, ICE has detained about
      4,500 undocumented workers and 111 employers, according to ICE

      Hildreth said he and bond fund leadership, which includes leading
      advocacy organizations such as the National Immigration Forum, decided
      about four months ago that the organization should broaden its reach
      across the country. It is now soliciting donations nationally, hoping
      to raise its profile and political clout to help lobby for immigration
      reform. So far, it has raised $200,000 for the national fund, but the
      money is going out as quickly as it comes in, organizers said.

      On-the-ground support

      The higher profile might have aided the bond fund during its recent
      outreach in Houston.

      After ICE agents raided Action Rags USA, the Houston rag factory, on
      June 25, bond fund organizers struggled to find "on-the-ground support"
      to help mobilize the families of detained immigrants, Hildreth said.
      One of the principles of the fund requires detainees' families to make
      matching contributions, which helps ensure they appear in court,
      organizers said.

      "I was very disappointed in Houston because we were ready to help,"
      Hildreth said.

      Maria Jimenez, a longtime Houston activist and special projects
      coordinator for the Center for Central American Resources, said local
      aid groups didn't learn about the fund until long after the raid. At
      least 74 of the 166 workers were released for humanitarian reasons
      within a week of the sweep.

      "It wasn't until two weeks later that the attorneys got a notice the
      bond fund was available, we only had one person who was still being
      detained and whose family couldn't raise the bail money," Jimenez said.

      Hildreth saw TV footage in March 2007 of workers picked up in an ICE
      raid in New Bedford, Mass., boarding a plane bound for Texas, where
      they were to be held before deportation.

      "I was really ticked off," he said. "Within 24 hours, ICE decided to
      take them to the detention centers in Texas just to facilitate removing
      them as fast as possible. I thought that was unfair.

      "If they stayed in Massachusetts, close to where we could have bonded
      them out, they could have gotten due process."

      Hildreth called an attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services, which
      provides free legal assistance to low-income clients, to offer his help
      posting bonds.

      Nancy Kelly, the managing attorney of the organization' s immigration
      unit, took Hildreth's phone call, and remembers thinking it was "too
      good to be true."

      "It was amazing," she said.

      Hildreth, the son of schoolteachers, said part of his motivation to
      help immigrants came from his father, a historian.

      "One of his big themes was that the immigration story in the United
      States is vital to the health and growth of our country," he said. "He
      drilled that into me."

      After graduating from Harvard University, Hildreth worked for the
      International Monetary Fund from 1975 to 1980, living in Washington,
      D.C., and La Paz, Bolivia. He returned to the U.S. and worked for major
      Wall Street firms until starting his own business in 1989, Boston-based
      IBS Inc., which buys and sells loans in international markets.

      "I've been involved in Latin America since college," he said. "I know
      many, many, many Latin Americans, including many, many Mexicans, so I
      have a personal friendship, a personal affinity."

      "And," he added, "I am a devout Roman Catholic and a liberal."

      In all, Hildreth said he paid $130,000 to help the New Bedford workers,
      and detainees' families chipped in $100,000, securing the release of 40
      people, he said. He said none of them skipped bond.

      The fund has infuriated some advocates for stricter immigration
      reforms, who have called it "traitorous" on Internet message boards.

      Risk of losing money

      Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration
      Reform, which lobbies for stringent immigration controls, said many
      illegal immigrants historically have failed to leave the country as
      ordered by the government. The number of immigrants labeled as
      "fugitives" or "absconders" by ICE totaled more than 594,000 in October
      2007, the most recent statistics available.

      "These contributors better be prepared to lose a lot of money," Mehlman

      Hildreth is frank about the bond fund's goal: to push for immigration
      reform that would grant legal status to illegal immigrants in the U.S.

      "There's one more reason -- besides humanitarian -- that this bond fund
      was created and it's just as important. It's political," he said. "We
      hope that if we get a lot of history helping people in raids, plus a
      lot of contributions, even if it's only a buck, then we can really have
      a voice next year in the immigration debate."

      The bond fund primarily helps people detained in workplace raids, but
      also occasionally takes on other immigration cases for humanitarian
      reasons. Hildreth helped a teenager who was housed in an immigration
      detention center for youths in Nixon, Texas, after the center was shut
      down amid allegations of sexual abuse by guards. After the center
      closed, one teenager's Texas attorney contacted the fund for

      "We were able to find a family a pro bono lawyer, and convince a judge
      to let us post a $4,000 bond to get him out of jail and into a
      permanent situation," he said. "When the $4,000 comes back, we're going
      to offer that as a scholarship fund for him."

      Chronicle reporter James Pinkerton contributed to this report.

      susan.carroll@ chron.com

      Brought to you by the HoustonChronicle. com

      http://www.chron. com/disp/ story.mpl/ metropolitan/ 5929129.html

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