House Introduces Bill to Help Detained Immigrants Make Bail

September 21, 2016 1:15 pm

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WASHINGTON — Legislation was introduced today in the House of Representatives that would require the government to consider factors like an individual’s financial situation and ties to the community when setting immigration bail. The American Civil Liberties Union is advocating for the measure’s passage.

In the federal criminal bail system, judges are required to consider someone’s financial ability to pay a bond and determine if alternative conditions of supervision are more suitable. In the immigration context, however, the government has refused to apply these protections to people in immigration detention facilities. As a result, many immigrants are ordered released on bond by the immigration court, but wind up in detention for years simply because they cannot afford to pay.

The Immigration Courts Bail Reform Act would ensure due process, regardless of immigration status. The legislation’s original co-sponsors include Reps. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and John Conyers (D-Mich.).

Joanne Lin, ACLU legislative counsel, said:

“In America, no one should be left to languish behind bars solely because they lack financial resources, yet this is the harsh reality for people locked up in immigration detention facilities. This bill will eliminate this double standard and ensure fair treatment of everyone, regardless of immigration status.”

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