A lesson in acting locally: the launch of the Georgia Immigration Bond Fund
In the summer of 2018, my family garnered national attention when our 6 year olds lemonade stand raised over $13,000 in support of RAICES, an organization that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families and refugees in Texas. The money was used to pay the bonds of detained migrants, one of the best ways for lay folks like us to show up for asylum seekers. There was no bond fund here in Georgia at the time, but that is no longer true and the purpose of this reflection.
The lemonade stand was a transformative experience, as our children learned an important lesson about their own agency in taking action and about solidarity as privileged, white kids.
But our family learned an even more important lesson following the experience after we were called in by local Georgia and Atlanta based organizers; act locally. While our donation traveled to the border, family separation was happening en masse in our back yard and had been for years. We had no idea.
The Metro-Atlanta area is one of the most targeted areas in the county by ICE. Routine traffic stops have placed thousands of undocumented immigrants into the hands of ICE. Three county jails outside of Atlanta participate in the program known as 287g, allowing sheriff’s deputies to cooperate and collaborate with ICE. We had no idea.
The state of Georgia is home to several detention centers, one of which is Stewart Detention center. Stewart is one of the largest for-profit detention centers in the country and one of the most notoriously dangerous and cruel. Four men have died at Stewart since 2017. We had no idea.
Georgia has one of the lowest rates for granting asylum in the country; 4% as opposed to the national average of around 40%. An immigration judge recently retired here in Atlanta having NEVER granted asylum once in their career. Georgia’s bond rates are also above the national average. The $13,000 we raised during the lemonade stand would have bonded out just one person. It’s truly shocking.
Since our lemonade stand, we have been listening to and learning from Georgia immigration organizers, lawyers and advocates. The need in our home state is extraordinary, with organizations tackling the many tentacles of our inhumane and unjust asylum and immigration system.
The work in Georgia is vast and deep, but one tentacle missing from our advocacy landscape has been a Georgia specific immigration bond fund. Immigrant families, organizers, lawyers and advocates agree this is a giant need and a round table of community organizers spent the summer and fall visioning how to make it happen.
Since 2011, Georgia Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), has educated, organized, and empowered Latino immigrants across Georgia to defend and advance their civil and human rights. They have boldly and courageously agreed to anchor the Georgia Immigration Bond Fond within their organization. There could be no better choice.
GLAHR now needs our help to bring this vision to life.
As mentioned, Georgia bonds are set inordinately high and impacted families are burdened to meet these costs. Yet when a person is bonded out, their chance of being granted asylum greatly increases.
The other exciting aspect of a bond fund is the money can become regenerative, meaning dollars used to bond out one individual may get recycled back into the fund after that person goes through the immigration process. Your donation has the chance to serve more than one human being caught in this inhumane system.
Please, join me in making a bold and courageous donation to honor the bold and courageous step GLAHR is taking in creating this fund. Our immigrant community has asked for this help. We must answer the call.
Let’s model for the nation what radical, Southern hospitality looks like in action.
Donate to the Georgia Immigration Bond Fund online here. All donations are tax deductible.