In the wake of the 2016 elections, immigrant rights advocates across New York City came together to find creative ways to resist the Trump administration’s mass deportation agenda. They came up with the idea of starting an immigration bond fund that would free immigrants locked up in immigration jails. The fund soon found a home at the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, which embraced the project as an extension of its work to fight detention systems that are built on the criminalization of poor black and brown communities. 

In the fall of 2018, the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund launched the New York Immigrant Freedom Fund (NYIFF) and paid its first immigration bond. The Brooklyn Community Bail Fund has since spent over $2.3 million million to free over 300 immigrant New Yorkers, reuniting them with their families and communities. While the average bond we’ve paid is close to $8,000, we have received bond requests up to $60,000. In addition to paying for the cost of freeing individuals from detention, we provide legal referrals from individuals who don’t have attorneys, covers travel expenses to reunite families, and provide other emergency assistance.

The Brooklyn Community Bail Fund works closely with an advisory group of community-based organizations including African Communities Together, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Families for Freedom, Immigrant Defense Project, Make the Road NY, and Surveillance Technology Oversight Project. 

Together with our community partners, we are committed to the principle that no human being should be imprisoned because of their immigration status. In an effort to affirm people’s dignity and agency, shorten the duration of their time in detention, and to stop the cycle of abusive imprisonment, the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund pays immigration bond for community members who are unable to afford it themselves. Beyond paying individual bonds, we will serve as a model of the importance of immigration pretrial release and will harness its results to influence the larger national policy conversation on detention and deportation.

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