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Understanding Immigration Bonds: Process, Types, & Trends

In February 2024, policy researchers from Syracuse University published an analysis of data obtained from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency concerning the use of bonds in situations that involve the detention of foreigners. The period covered by the analysis ran from the final months of the Obama administration through today. The numbers reached record-high levels of activity during the Trump era, and they’ve dipped to record-low levels during the current administration. To understand the reason behind the sharp drop in immigration bonds under President Joe Biden, it’s essential to understand how the program works.

The Basics of the U.S. Immigration Bond Program

An immigration bond is similar to a bail bond in the criminal justice system. It’s a financial guarantee or surety someone pays to ICE to avoid getting stuck in a detention center. Many of these bonds are posted after “migrant encounters” at the border with Mexico. While those who are detained can pay for the bonds on the spot if they have the cash, most bonds feature third-party payments made on behalf of foreigners facing detention.

Whoever puts up the money for an immigration bond becomes an obligor to the U.S. government. The surety is a promise to show up for all immigration appointments or court hearings. Moreover, any orders issued by ICE or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must be followed. Since immigration bonds are a form of bail, they come with various terms of release. If there’s a violation of the terms, the obligor loses the money, and ICE uses it to cover the costs associated with running the agency.

When Are Immigration Bonds Issued?

An immigration bond must be preceded by a detention. When migrants are intercepted by ICE or Border Patrol agents, they’re usually detained if their legal status cannot be determined. Then they’re taken to detention centers, which can be federal facilities, county jails, locked dormitories, or even temporary camps. These detentions don’t always happen at the border. They can result from ICE raids in workplaces, home visits, or encounters with other law enforcement agencies in some jurisdictions.

Immigration bonds are issued on a case-by-case basis. The decision to use them is made by the legal team working with ICE agents during the intake process, but such decisions may take a few days in some cases. When detainees who haven’t been offered the option to post bonds can contact their lawyers, such as attorneys who specialize in immigration services in San Diego, requests can be made to ICE so the option becomes available.

There are two types of immigration bonds. The most common are delivery bonds that require immigrants to show up for court hearings and attend USCIS appointments. Departure bonds can be posted by immigrants who have been given dates to leave the U.S. instead of being detained or removed. The median immigration bond amount during the Biden administration has been $4,000. During the Trump administration, the median amount was $8,000.

As to why the use of immigration bonds has plummeted since 2021, the White House has adopted a policy of preventing the ugly scandals surrounding ICE detention centers during the Trump administration. As such, the current strategy is aimed at reducing the number of detentions.

If you have questions about immigration services and how they may affect you and your family, contact trustworthy San Diego immigration attorneys. The lawyers at KS Visa Law have vast experience with every aspect of immigration law, and they’re the attorneys to call on when you need the most up-to-date information about immigration regulations and how to navigate the immigration court system. Call KS Visa Law today to schedule an appointment.

May 2024