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Release of Undocumented Immigrants on Bond

by Hamid R. Kashani, Attorney at Law
Nov 07, 2018

What is a bond?

The bond (or bail bond) is an amount of money that somebody pays in order to secure the release of an arrestee. The purpose of the bond is to ensure that the detainee, who is being released, will attend hearings at the immigration court.  If the detainee shows up for all hearings, then the bond will be refunded at the conclusion of the proceedings. Otherwise, the bond will be forfeited.

Are undocumented immigrants eligible for release on bond, if arrested by ICE?

Generally, undocumented immigrants are eligible for bond consideration. If they qualify for bond, they may be released on their own recognizance (OR), which is a personal promise to show up for the scheduled hearings; be placed on GPS, telephonic, or home visit monitoring; be ordered to periodically report to ICE; or be allowed to post cash bond.  A release may also be made contingent on a combination of these options.

Some undocumented immigrants are subject to mandatory detention and are not eligible to be released on bond. Mandatory detention is generally reserved for such individuals as suspected terrorists, spies, and violent felons. Those, who have previously failed to show up for their scheduled immigration hearings, may also be denied bond.

Which groups of undocumented immigrants are not eligible for bond?

Undocumented immigrants, arriving at a port of entry, interdicted on high seas, or arrested inside the country and placed in expedited removal, are not eligible for bond consideration. These undocumented immigrants may not be released on bond, but they may request parole while the immigration officials decide their admissibility.

How does ICE determine the bond for detained undocumented immigrants?

For those undocumented immigrants who are eligible for bond consideration, ICE makes the initial decision regarding the availability and the amount of bond. If ICE denies bond or sets it too high, the undocumented immigrant detainee may request that an immigration judge review and re-determine the bond. The immigration judge may set a bond or reduce the amount ordered by ICE.

Regardless of who makes the decision, a bail bond decision will turn on two broad considerations:

  1. Whether the detainee is likely to show up at the immigration court hearings, and
  2. Whether the detainee poses a public safety risk.

Evidence regarding the following facts may play an important role in the bail bond decision:  undocumented immigrant detainee's family ties and responsibilities, immigration status of family members, number and age of children, home ownership and other financial interests, community ties and involvement, employment records, and criminal record, if any.

A criminal record may adversely affect the bond decision. Some serious criminal offenses may even result in denial of bond and substantive immigration benefits.

What is the range of the bond amount?

Immigration bonds generally range from $1,500 to $20,000. The minimum bond amount is $1,500. . There is no upper limit.  Detainees who are released on bond may not be authorized to work because of such release.

An immigration bond may be posted by a family member or friend, who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.  In that case, the bond should be paid by a certified check showing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as the payee and the name of the person posting bond as the payor. The name and A- number, if any, of the detainee should be written in the memo. line of the certified check.

If you are posting bond for a detainee, ensure that you keep a copy of the certified check and all paperwork that you receive when you actually post bond with ICE. The bond may also be posted by an immigration bondsman.


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