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The Work of EICBP

The Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project (EICBP) works with bond-eligible detained immigrants to pay their bond and reunite them with their loved ones.

Not every immigrant is eligible for bond– this is determined either by ICE or an immigration judge. Our clients are people who are eligible and who have had a bond amount set. Our program’s only criteria for eligibility are financial need and bond amount. We do not discriminate based on personal history, family status, age, sex, nationality, race, ethnicity, or gender. Our goal is to support and defend some of Iowa’s most marginalized populations: those without regularized immigration status or financial resources to navigate the immigration system. We bond people out of detention to protest and resist unfair immigration policies, to keep families together, and to mitigate the damage our immigration enforcement system does to the health and strength of Iowa communities.


About Immigration Bond–AND HOW WE POST IT

Immigrants who cannot afford bond remain in jail due to their poverty alone. The minimum bond amount in immigration court is $1,500, but bond amounts vary widely. The average bond is $5,000 – $7,000. We raise this money locally, from organizations and individuals across Eastern Iowa.


Each bond has to be paid in person in the Omaha ICE Enforcement and Removal Field Office. This office has jurisdiction over almost all cases in Iowa, as well as Nebraska. The person paying the bond–the obligor–must drive to Omaha to pay. The obligor also must have lawful status in the U.S., and the bond has to be paid in full by money order or cashier’s check. (We are always looking for volunteers to make this drive!) Once the bond is paid, the detainee is released from the facility in which they are being held, usually Hardin County Jail in Eldora.



In the first seven months of 2017, total arrests of immigrants in the interior of the U.S. increased by 43% from the end of 2016. The number of interior arrests of non-citizens never convicted of any crime has almost tripled. Ultimately, people released on bond have better chances of getting to stay in the community: nationally, 68% of people released on bond are not removed from the United States, compared to an overall removal rate of 46%. When a person is released on bond, they have a much better chance of finding an attorney, and more time to prepare their case and to collect and allocate the resources they’ll need to defend themselves against deportation.


Immigrants have a hard time getting legal representation while detained: from 2007 to 2012, only 14% of detained immigrants had legal representation. This has to do with several factors. First, there is no right to an attorney in immigration court, meaning immigrants must pay the full cost of their legal defense out of pocket. Second, practically speaking, detention centers are difficult to access–both because they are in remote locations and because the system creates barriers to outside communication. It’s nearly impossible for detainees to contact attorneys in the first place. These two factors compound each other: every time a detained immigrant needs to meet with their attorney, they have to pay for travel time as well as the time actually spent preparing their case.


Being out of detention also slows cases down dramatically. Most detained cases in the Omaha Immigration Court resolve within 6 months, while non-detained cases can take several years to reach their conclusion.



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