Immigration is one of the most pressing issues of our time in an era when families are getting separated at the border, DACA is being reconsidered, and racist bans on immigration are being put into place. Berkeley Immigration Group (BIG)--a student-led services group at Berkeley Law--is giving you a chance to take action with their bond fund project. The Immigrant Liberation Bond Fund (ILBF) was started as a response to the significant need to fund bonds to further strengthen BIG’s immigration-related advocacy efforts, and is the newest addition to BIG. In addition to the bond fund, BIG’s projects include court observations, detention center outreach, and know-your-rights presentations.
The purpose of the Immigrant Liberation Bond Fund is to post bond on behalf of indigent individuals currently incarcerated at immigration detention centers. Oftentimes, these individuals have no means of paying their bonds. As a result, they stay incarcerated in detention for weeks, months, and even years. We prioritize detainees who suffer disproportionately from being detained, including those who are queer, disabled, or have medical conditions.
HOW WILL YOUR DONATION MAKE AN IMPACT?
- As immigrants in detention await their removal hearing, they may lose their jobs, housing, or even custody of their children.
- Individuals who are incarcerated in immigration detention face extreme difficulty in securing proper legal counsel. Represented immigrants who are bonded out are 8x more likely to win their case than unrepresented detainees.
- Immigration bonds, if offered, range from $1,500 to $250,000. The median immigration bond set by the San Francisco Immigration Court in 2018 was $14,000.
IMMIGRANT LIBERATION BOND FUND’S FIRST YEAR
In the Immigrant Liberation Bond Fund’s first year, we raised over $11,000, which was used this past summer to pay the bond of Mr. Hamid and effectively free him from detention. Hamid is a 17-year-old refugee from Afghanistan fleeing ISIS and the Taliban who was held in adult detention for over five months in Mesa Verde detention facility. He received an astronomical bond of $25,000, but the ILBF and community -- including folks at Pangea Legal Services, Faith in Action, and 415 Unidos for Freedom, a group of high school students at June Jordan School for Equity -- worked tirelessly to secure Hamid's release. Feel free to read more about his case here.
Hamid's case is not an isolated incident. This happens to many family members and loved ones across the country, and it highlights: the Trump administration's Islamophobia and scapegoating of immigrants, unrealistic ICE bonds, and the inhumane immigration detention conditions that community members are subjected to. This crowdfunding initiative would support and supplement our existing fundraising efforts for ILBF. 100% of the proceeds go directly to reuniting families.
High school students from the June Jordan School for Equity at a rally in front of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris’ office to put pressure on leaders to make ICE lower the amount of Hamid's bond.
LETTER FROM HAMID
On October 22, 2018, we received a letter update from Hamid. The following are his words:
"I am feeling so good and so happy. I appreciate everyone from the community who helped pay for my bond. I will never forget the people that helped me get out. I am so glad for the help and support.
After I got out of detention, I came to live in San Francisco. I have great friends in San Francisco now. We go to movies, the beach, parties, restaurants. I am in high school now, too. I'm taking math, English, history, biology, P.E., all the classes I'm supposed to take. There are a lot of new people in my life, and I'm so happy.
I also have Afghan friends that I met here through an interpreter that helped me when I was freed. They invite me to come to barbeques and other dinners they are having, and we eat Afghan food together. I think of these friends as my older brothers. They tell me not to worry about anything; they always tell me they will help me if I need anything. I will never forget this kind of help, and all the help I have received.
I am happy here. I am free."
PAST FUNDRAISING EFFORTS
In the past school year, our fundraising efforts have included: stand-alone fundraisers, such as Turkeygrams and bake sales, along with bigger fundraising campaigns, like our “BIG Week,” a week-long fundraising effort that included tabling for Day-of-Pay pledges, coffee auctions with Professors, and informational lunch sessions and panels that brought together community partners and previously detained individuals to share their stories and advocacy efforts with law students.
WITH YOUR HELP, WE CAN RAISE OUR EXISTING FUNDRAISING TO THE NEXT LEVEL, SO THAT TOGETHER, WE CAN POST BOND FOR MANY OTHERS, LIKE HAMID, WHO ARE CURRENTLY INCARCERATED IN IMMIGRATION DETENTION.
As part of BIG Week, community members shared their harrowing experiences being previously incarcerated in an immigration detention center and separated from their family and young children.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out our website at https://berkeleyimmigrationgroup.org/