Beginning Wednesday, October 21st, in an action dubbed “Fall Freedom Day,” immigrant rights organizations in coordination with the National Bail Fund Network and Detention Watch Network, will begin the process of posting $3 million in immigration bonds to free hundreds of individuals held in immigration detention across the country. The collective action builds off of years of organizing by groups across the country and a similar action in 2019 that freed over 200 people.
“At a time when the Trump Administration has made the destruction of immigrant communities a top political priority by focusing on expanding the web of policing, detention, and deportations across the country, communities are fighting back,” said Ana Maria Rivera-Forastieri, Immigration Bond Fund Organizer at the National Bail Fund Network. “We are paying millions in bond ransom as an act of radical defiance against a system that is intent on curtailing any possible path to freedom as we commit to ending all forms of incarceration and surveillance.”
The Trump Administration’s current policies have expelled more than 150,000 people at the Southern border since March while simultaneously implementing ICE raids in communities across the country. Individuals subjected to detention have been put in extreme danger as ICE detention jails are COVID-19 hotspots - 21 people died in immigration detention centers in FY 2020 alone.
“The alarming death toll in ICE custody underscores that the immigration enforcement system is plagued by egregiously poor conditions, a lack of accountability and a culture of violence that results in system-wide abuses, including death,” said Setareh Ghandehari, Advocacy Manager at Detention Watch Network. “Today’s action underscores the urgent need to free all people from immigration detention.”
The “Fall Freedom Day 2020” action, which will be the largest collective act of buying freedom by community-based organizations and is a partnership of National Bail Fund Network, Detention Watch Network, Minnesota Freedom Fund, and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights will:
- Free hundreds of people who have been held in over 20 immigration jails across the country.
- Free individuals from over 25 countries of origin from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, the Middle East, and South America. A third of all individuals freed as part of this action are Black immigrants from African, Caribbean, & South American countries of origin.
- Involve local organizers posting bond in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia.
- Assist the freed individuals to return to their families and communities across the country, welcomed by dozens of local community and faith-based organizations, all while assisting people with COVID-19 precautions.
Under the Trump Administration, the average amount for the ransom of immigration bond has increased. The average immigration bond is $10,000 with huge variations depending on the immigration judge and location of detention. Payment of bond for Fall Freedom Day will include bonds ranging from $3,000-$80,000 for individuals, with an average of $14,000.
“We have seen in the detention centers in our region that the few people that are eligible for bond are prevented from accessing this resource, instead put into a medical quarantine, unable to leave because of exposure to a deadly disease, an exposure they have not consented to, but must deal with while they languish in prison,” said Nina Ebner of the El Paso-area Fronterizo Fianza Fund. “Covid-19 exposes a truth we already know, that detention and prisons only shorten peoples' lives.”
“We’re excited to see people be reunited with their loved ones today! Our goal is to make Fall Freedom Day unnecessary by dismantling this absurd and inhumane practice of locking people up during immigration proceedings. Right now, the lives of immigrants are on the line as COVID continues to spread. We need these detention centers closed immediately,” said Autumn Gonzalez, volunteer at the Sacramento-area NorCal Resist Bond Fund.
“The cost of freedom and liberation of Black immigrants requires transformational systemic changes that will only be achieved when we come together truly committed to building a nation reflective of strong family values and upholding the tenets of liberty for all,” said Guerline Jozef, co-founder of the Black Immigrants Bail Fund. “Fall Freedom Day is an example of how together we can eradicate mass incarceration and tear down these systems, transforming one life at a time.”
“On Fall Freedom Day 2020, we recommit to the collective push to dismantle the immigration system. We fight back against despair knowing that so many are denied bond, and do so by giving as many people as possible the chance to fight their deportation from outside a cage. This is not a “reformable” system - there is no kinder, gentler ICE, there is no ICE that does not kidnap, imprison, and deport our Black and Brown neighbors. The simple truth is that ICE needs to be abolished — as quickly as possible,” said Greg Lewin, Interim Executive Director, of the Minnesota Freedom Fund.
The National Bail Fund Network is a network of over 80 community-based bail and bond funds that pool resources to free people from detention in all of its forms. The National Bail Fund Network includes 39 community-based immigration bond funds that focus on freeing people from immigration detention.
Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow on Twitter @DetentionWatch.