Advocates are urging Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday to approve new regulations for the immigration bond industry and lay down new oversight rules.
The bill sitting on Hochul's desk addresses the for-profit bond industry for immigration, a system that can draw in tens of thousands of immigrants across the country. In New York, hundreds of immigrant residents can be detained at 76 different locations.
In New York, median dollar amounts granted for bonds in immigration cases stands at $7,500 — considered to be among the highest in the country, according to lawmakers backing the bill.
State lawmakers earlier this year approved legislation that would create a cap on immigration bond premiums and prohibit immigration bond firms from requiring electronic monitoring as a condition of immigation bail. It would also require bond companies to disclose the sources of funding for lawyers who are referred to clients while informing of them of their right to choose to their own legal counsel.
At the same time, the measure proposes new ownership restrictions and would have state officials set regulations for the businesses.
“New York’s immigration bond industry operates essentially with zero oversight, and our clients and their loved ones suffer as a result,” said Deborah Lee, attorney-in-charge of the Immigration Law Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “Unable to afford their own freedom, immigrant New Yorkers turn to for-profit bond companies who charge exorbitant fees, driving many deep into debt. The lack of regulation and oversight perpetuates this reality, and we call on Governor Hochul to sign this bill into law at once.”