Project aims to help undocumented immigrants post bond

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Bonding out costs undocumented immigrants thousands of dollars when they are taken into custody. One group in Iowa City is trying to make it a little easier for them to be freed before authorities deport them.

It’s called the Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project described as a grassroots mission to help undocumented community members.

"The idea itself is essentially of kind of a contingency plan for if and when there would be any sort of a sweep or a raid in our area,” group advocate Natalia Espina said.

When an undocumented immigrant is taken into custody, the group could offer funds to help bail them out.

"We're literally buying individuals time so I just heard from a friend who is an immigration lawyer that they are currently scheduling immigration hearings for 2020, 2024 and so if someone can be bailed out of jail there still is a chance that person will be deported but they get years to get their case together build a case, get representation,” group advocate Elizabeth Rook said.

The money will also help pay legal fees and connect them with lawyers.

An attorney affiliated with the bond project says it makes a big difference.

"Immigration law is highly technical and it's being applied to people who don't necessarily have English fluency and don't have familiarity with basic legal system concepts,” Julia Zalenski said, “honestly I'm shocked that anyone unrepresented ever gets relief."

Project founders also just want to spread the word of the emotional toll that immigration raids have on communities and to offer families of undocumented immigrants a little peace of mind.

The project has already raised a little more than a thousand dollars. They're looking for volunteers to help spread the word. You can visit their website at www.communitybondproject.org.