Immigration Detention Bond Policies Need to Be Changed

November 22, 2016

by Sela Cowger, Policy and Advocacy Fellow

With almost 42,000 immigrants currently detained in the federal immigration detention system, and with rising detention costs, there is growing interest in expanding opportunities for the release of detained noncitizens who pose no flight risk or threat to public safety. One key area of focus has been on reforming current immigration bond policies.

Payment of a bond is one of the only opportunities that detained noncitizens have to seek release from detention. However, current bond policies fail to consider an individual’s ability to pay, resulting in bond amounts that are often set too high for those with limited financial means to pay for their release. This means that indigent noncitizens remain in detention until their cases are fully processed through the immigration court system, which can take upwards of several years. This also results in more noncitizens held in our expensive federal immigration detention system and more U.S. taxpayer dollars going towards detention costs.

The National Immigration Forum’s policy brief, Reforming Bond Policies for Indigent Noncitizens in Immigration Detention, provides an overview of current immigration policies and proposes several reforms to address the unfair treatment of indigent noncitizens in our federal immigration system. Small improvements to immigration bond policies will not only promote a more humane immigration policy towards indigent noncitizens, but will also help the federal government better allocate its limited resources on detaining only those who pose a flight risk or a real threat to public safety.