By Sherry Drobner
Every year Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detains thousands of immigrants nationwide, including many lawful US residents, for reasons ranging from anonymous tips to criminal arrests. The immigrants are incarcerated in detention centers; as Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) puts it, this practice “removes people from their families and communities, endangers their houses, jobs, public benefits and healthcare, and prevents them from adequately defending their right to remain in their home.“
Detained immigrants aren’t provided an attorney to navigate the legal system, and most can’t afford the $3,411 average bond to be released while waiting for a hearing. It’s not unusual for immigrants to wait years for a hearing while remaining behind bars, away from family and unable to work. In 2014, more than 50% of detainees in Northern California had lived in the United States for 10 years or more; 77% had families in the United States; and 65% had jobs before entering detention. Families are literally broken apart by the system. To address this injustice, CIVIC initiated the Bay Area Bond Fund, a revolving fund to ensure that immigrants can fight their deportation cases outside the confines of jail, in their communities, reunited with their family and friends.
Artists for Humanity, a local artist and cultural activist group, is holding a benefit to support the Bay Area Bond Fund on January 28, from 2:30-5:30 PM at Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley. The concert features dancers Calpulli Huey Papalotl Cultural Group; musicians Dance Chant; jazz band Humanistic featuring Otoe Mori on saxophone, Greg German on drums, and Vince Khoe on keys; and powerful poetry by local artist and activist Pennie Opal Plant. Suggested donation $10-$30. See more information about the program here.
Sherry Drobner is an adult literacy advocate in the city of Richmond.