More Fake News at the Washington Post
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, a “pseudo-event” is “an event produced by a communicator with the sole purpose of generating media attention and publicity. These events lack real news value but still become the subject of media coverage.”
When it comes to immigration coverage, the mainstream media offers up a steady diet of pseudo-events. And the Washington Post is one of the worst offenders – particularly when it comes to baseless criticism of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The title of a recent piece in the Post histrionically proclaims, “ICE Is Holding $204 Million in Bond Money, and Some Immigrants Might Never Get it Back.” Much like the criminal courts throughout the United States, ICE allows immigration violators to post a cash bond, as an alternative to being held in custody. The purpose of the bond is to ensure that immigration violators show up for their hearings before the U.S. Immigration Courts.
The veiled implication throughoutthe article is that ICE is somehow preying upon poor Hispanics who don’t speakEnglish:
The post states that, “Numerousimmigration attorneys said the system for reclaiming the funds is mystifyingand nearly impossible to navigate without a lawyer or English-languageproficiency, and some who pay the bonds are unlikely to see the money again.”
But that claim isn’t remotely true.The refund procedure is actually quite simple. Once an Immigration Courtproceeding has been completed, ICE issues a notice confirming that theimmigration bond has been canceled. The person who paid the bond then sends theICE Bond Unit a letter requesting a refund, accompanied by a copy of the bondcancellation notice and a copy of the bond receipt. The whole process issignificantly less complicated than filing a basic tax return.
The Post also claims that, “While criminal defendants typically can paya bondsman 10 percent of the set bail amount to gain release, in theimmigration system about 90 percent of bonds require cash for the whole amountupfront.”
However, that’s an outrightmisrepresentation of the bond process. In all jurisdictions that use bailbondsmen, the bail amount set by the court must be rendered in full. Bondsmenpay that sum, up front, in cash. The defendant hands over 10 percent of thetotal. When defendants show up for their next hearing, bondsmen keep the 10percent – as a fee for loaning the bail money – and reclaim their cash from thecourt.
In reality, there’s a cottage industry of immigration bondsmen who furnish immigration bond money. Here’s just one example: Action Immigration Bonds. But, the fact is, many aliens don’t want to use bondsmen – because, in order to avoid forfeiting cash they have posted, bondsmen will locate absconders and turn them over to ICE. Of course, the Post doesn’t mention that.
What about that $204 million poolof cash ICE is supposedly holding onto? The Post,implies that ICE is inappropriately holding money owed to released aliens. Butthat is far from clear based on the information cited.
In fact, in many cases, theindividual who posted the bond simply hasn’t requested a refund. According tothe Post, “The person who posted thebond money might move across the country or even out of the country; they mightlose the original paperwork required to reclaim the money back, creatingadditional hurdles; the obligor might die.”
It’s also worth noting that, assuming an average bond amount of $5,000, ICE’s bond fund contains money associated with roughly 40,000 aliens. That may seem like a large number. But the Immigration Court has a backlog of over one million cases. That means ICE has been unable to issue bond refunds only to a very small proportion of the millions of immigration violators currently in the system.
Perhaps the Washington Post should expend more effort investigating the facts? But that would interfere with its ability to create buzz-generating, immigration-related pseudo-events.