ICE must publish on its website guidelines and procedures explaining how the agency processes bonds for the release of individuals in detention, according to a lawsuit filed by CREW along with the American Immigration Council, Immigrant Legal Defense and the National Bail Fund Network with its local bond fund members NorCal Resist, Prairielands Freedom Fund, and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).
The FOIA lawsuit challenges ICE’s failure to provide the public with information about different aspects of the bond payment process, which leads to obstacles and delays for advocates, families, and friends attempting to pay bonds to free their loved ones. People who try to pay bonds often lack information about ICE offices’ hours of operation and forms of accepted payments, have encountered inconsistent payment rejections, and even have been racially profiled for additional questioning. Family members, advocates, and impacted individuals should have access to agency manuals and instructions relating to the posting, revocation, cancellation, and refunding of immigration bonds.
ICE must follow the law and make public various bond policies it has implemented but that are not available on ICE’s website. FOIA’s proactive disclosure provision requires agencies to make publicly available on its website certain information that affects the public. This should include information such as how to post payment, the hours of operation for payment locations, and any additional steps those paying bonds must follow, which ICE has failed to publish.
“Federal law prohibits government agencies from relying on secret laws and policies when dealing with members of the public, yet that is exactly what ICE is doing. By failing to proactively disclose its immigration bond policies, ICE is applying a secret set of rules to decide who can be freed from detention while awaiting their deportation proceedings. No one should be deprived of their liberty without full transparency of the policies being applied to them. Today’s lawsuit seeks to bring an end to this unlawful practice,” said Nikhel Sus, senior counsel, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
December 8, 2022