The CIBF’s mission is to assist families in Charlottesville, and Albemarle and Nelson counties with loved ones in immigration proceedings or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention. Early and generous support from community members and local congregations means that CIBF is now accepting applications for grants to cover legal representation and/or loans to pay immigration bond.

“CIBF believes that all of our immigrant neighbors should be able to seek legal status regardless of their financial situations” says Priscilla Mendenhall, CIBF founder and board member. “For many families, this is not possible when legal fees range from $3,000 to $5,000 and ICE bond averages $16,000, an amount that must be paid in full to obtain release from detention. The grants and loans provided by CIBF may not cover all of these expenses but they provide essential monetary aid and a sense of solidarity to families as they find additional resources.”

The Charlottesville area is home to more than 10,000 undocumented immigrants, each one of whom lives with the daily fear of being denied permission to stay or summarily arrested and deported. They include unaccompanied minors who came into the U.S. alone and live with sponsors, women survivors of violence, household breadwinners, youth accused of gang affiliation, and asylum seekers. For many, deportation means a return to violence, economic destitution, malnutrition, and possible death. For them, the Border Is Here.

“Many of our most vulnerable community members are facing a humanitarian crisis,” says Tanishka Cruz, a local immigration attorney who has nearly 60 undocumented clients, including unaccompanied minors and women survivors of domestic abuse. “This crisis tears families apart and forces thousands of people into immigration detention, where they languish without legal representation and face almost certain deportation. CIBF provides life-altering and life-saving support to our cherished neighbors swept up in this crisis, who have no access to court-appointed legal representation. Freedom from detention and access to legal representation keep families together and substantially increase a person’s ability to defend their case and remain in our community.”

CIBF grants are gifts to a family that do not require repayment. Our bond loans, without initial fees or interest, are based on a cost-share agreement between CIBF and a family or individual. At the close of a case, when ICE returns the bond, CIBF agrees to reimburse any amounts paid by the family while the remainder is re-invested in CIBF’s revolving bond loan program.

In the past month, CIBF has paid $5,000 in grants for legal costs, supporting an unaccompanied minor and a woman asylum seeker as they fight their way through the immigration courts. CIBF has also posted bond on behalf of a father who was immediately reunited with his son, who ICE had separated from him when they crossed the border. CIBF support to defray legal costs does not require reimbursement.

The May 8th event will also gives the community an opportunity to applaud a donation from Creciendo Juntos’ Latinx Leaders of Charlottesville. In June 2018, following the appalling news of family separation at the border, Latinx Leadership member Alexandra Maldonado organized a fundraiser to help vulnerable immigrant families that raised almost $800, which they are proudly donating to the CIBF.

Background

The Cville Immigration Bond Fund is being launched at a time when racist, xenophobic, and criminalizing rhetoric have once again infected the national discourse. Significantly ramped up and draconian immigration enforcement are tools of this agenda. A few facts make this case:

  • The US maintains the largest immigration detention system in the world.
  • Under the current administration, ICE’s budget has grown by $1 billion.
  • 80% of ICE detainees either had no criminal record or had committed only minor offenses.
  • ICE is currently detaining the highest number of immigrants in our history, currently 50,000 people a day.
  • ICE is allowed to detain people indefinitely, including legal asylum seekers, who are protected by international law.
  • Many of ICE’s common practices are violations of human rights, among them food deprivation, light stimulation, subjection to extreme cold or heat, solitary confinement, and refusal of medical services.
  • ICE has no system for tracking children separated from their parents at the border; it may take up to two years for ICE and the Office of Refugee Resettlement to determine the whereabouts of thousands of separated children.
  • Over 71 percent of those detained by ICE are held in prisons owned or operated by private companies. Immigrant detention is viewed as a growth opportunity by private corporations such as GeoGroup and CoreCivic as reform of the criminal legal system results in fewer criminal incarcerations.

The Cville Immigrant Bond Fund has been established as a counterweight to a system which is unjust, inhumane and detrimental to both undocumented immigrants and our democracy. CIBF’s grant and loan programs are designed to mitigate the great harm being done to local families, women and children. We, and our partner organizations in the National Bail Fund Network, believe that no one should be detained for an immigration violation or while seeking asylum.