Immigrants Pay $2 Billion in ICE Bonds Since FY 2017
(08 Feb 2024) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) often requires immigrants to pay a bond before releasing them from immigrant detention centers. In addition to Alternatives to Detention (ATD) monitoring, ICE uses bonds as a way of ensuring that immigrants attend their immigration court hearings and follow additional requirements set by ICE. Once a bond is posted, detained immigrants are typically released.

Based on new data obtained by TRAC through Freedom of Information Act requests, between the start of FY 2017 (October 2016) and the end of December 2023, immigrants or their supporters posted more than a quarter of a million bonds and paid Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) just over $2 billion in bond money. The median immigration bond paid was $6,000. Use of bonds peaked during FY 2019. Of the $2 billion, about one-fourth was posted during just that one year.

The number of bonds posted per month varied over time, but was not driven entirely by the total detained population. The total number of bonds and the aggregate bond amounts increased from FY 2017 to FY 2019, the first three years of the Trump administration, a time when detention numbers were also on the rise. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a decline in detention numbers overall as well as a decline in bonds posted.

However, the total bonds posted remained mostly low until February 2022 when they began to increase from around 1,000 per month to over 2,000 per month and peaked at over 3,600 in August 2022. Over this period, ICE’s detained population increased, but not enough to account for the increase in bonds. By the start of 2023, the total numbers of bonds dropped to just over 1,000 per month where they mostly remained throughout 2023, even though detention numbers substantially increased.

Typically, immigration bonds must be posted at one of ICE’s field offices. The location with the most detention bonds posted is ICE’s detention facility in Eloy, Arizona where over 22,500 bonds have been posted since FY 2017 for a total of nearly $185 million. The ICE office in Adelanto, California, received over 10,000 bonds in total. This was on par with other facilities in Miami, Oakdale, and Florence, but what made Adelanto stand out was the median bond amount of $15,000—far higher than at other facilities.

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