Bond Fund Aids Illegal Immigrants With Court Costs

Gillian Gaynair, AP, August 11, 2008

Some illegal immigrants arrested in workplace raids by federal agents will now have a resource to help them post bond and have a day in court.

The National Immigrant Bond Fund will launch a fundraising campaign and make its national debut during a news conference at Casa de Maryland in Silver Spring on Monday. The immigrant advocacy group helped workers seized in a recent federal raid in Annapolis access the bond fund, which was formalized about three months ago.

Here’s how the fund works: Illegal immigrants arrested in raids who do not have any outstanding criminal violations can apply for financial assistance. Churches, legal organizations or groups such as Casa help facilitate their requests. The fund provides half the bail money and immigrants must pony up the rest.

“The chance of somebody in essence absconding is by and large eliminated because they have their money invested in their freedom as well,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum in Washington and a member of the fund’s committee.

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The fund grew out of a series of efforts by 57-year-old Boston financier Bob Hildreth, owner of International Bank Services Inc., which buys and sells loans worldwide.

Hildreth said he gave $130,000 last year to help detainees post bond after a raid at a New Bedford, Mass., factory by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. The detainees’ families pitched in $100,000.

Hildreth contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars more this year after following workplace raids, including one on June 30 at Annapolis Painting Services company, where federal officials arrested 45 employees on administrative immigration violations.

The financier studied Spanish in Mexico as a college student, and over the decades he has contributed millions to establish education and citizenship programs for immigrants in Massachusetts, among other initiatives.

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