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Immigration courts make bail available to more immigrants

One of the many challenges that some immigrants face is being detained, apart from their families, until their case is heard and decided. But for some, this is changing. Immigration courts in North Carolina and around the country are allowing illegal immigrants to post bail in greater numbers.

The revised application of immigration rules holds some benefits for immigrants, but it also has potential drawbacks. On the one hand, immigrants who are eligible for bail can see their families and continue their activities pending the outcome of their cases. On the other hand, some suggest that the government is taking advantage of some immigrants by requiring an amount of money that does not match the person's capacity to afford it. If a person does not abide by the terms of release on bond, the government collects the money.

In immigration cases, judges set bail using a variety of factors, such as immigrants' familial relationships with U.S. citizens, how long they have resided in the country and the length and nature of their employment. The statutory minimum for bail is $1,500, but judges can increase it as they see fit. The mean bail amount is slightly over $5,000.

Not everyone is eligible to be released on bail, however. As with normal bail considerations, judges weigh whether the immigrant presents a danger to society or is likely to flee if released. In addition, judges will usually grant bail if immigrants have no prior deportation orders or crimes on their record.

Immigrants who abide by all the terms of their release on bond, which typically include appearing on all required court dates, will receive their money back. Since a large amount of money is at stake, immigrants eligible for release from custody on bail should know the rights and responsibilities of posting a bond.

Source: The Houston Chronicle, "Huge rise seen in ICE cases released on bail," Regina Garcia Cano, Mar. 24, 2012.

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