New Haven's Immigrant Bail Fund Wins 'Unsung Heroes Award'

Mar 15, 2018

The Immigrant Bail Fund, based in New Haven, has been chosen for this year’s Unsung Heroes Award, which seeks to make the city a better place for all residents. The bail fund supports people who are detained in immigration jail.

The minimum bond amount in immigration court is about $1,500 - cash. And detainees often end up staying in jail simply because they can’t afford bond. The longer they’re detained, the greater the risk of losing their jobs, housing, or even custody of their children, which can greatly increase their chances of being deported.

The Immigrant Bail Fund posts bond for people that are in the country illegally and have been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And the process can be complicated, said Ana Maria Rivera-Forastieri, co-director of the Connecticut Bail Fund.

“For example in order to get bond assigned, you have to prove to the immigration judge that you’re not a flight risk and that you are a person of good moral character and are wanted in the community essentially,” said Rivera-Forastieri.

She said getting people out of jail and bringing them back into the community, returning them to work and their families while fighting their cases, increases the likelihood of their success.

“For people that are detained, only 3 percent actually avoid deportation,” she said. “So we know that coming back into the community is essential to try to beat a deportation.”

The Immigrant Bail Fund is a nonprofit collaborative project that started a little over a year ago. Most of their money comes from grassroots fundraising. They’ve posted bond for roughly 12 people in the past year.