Muslim initiative raises thousands to release detained migrant parents

8/16/2019, 6 a.m.
Led by two of the country’s most prominent imams, hundreds of U.S. Muslims have raised more than $81,000 to bail ...

Undocumented immigrants or legal asylum-seekers detained by ICE or CBP are held in detention facilities until they go to trial, where the court will decide whether they can stay in the country, or until they are able to pay their bond.

There is no legal maximum on these immigration cash bonds, which are typically higher than bails in criminal cases. The nonprofit Freedom for Immigrants has reported bonds as high as $250,000, with an average of $14,500.

Mr. Smith said most of his cases range from $10,000 to $15,500.

Mr. Smith, who is Muslim, said he has seen few Muslim-led efforts to raise funds or volunteer to help immigration detainees. He attributes that both to U.S. Muslims’ disproportionately young population as well as the fact that many immigrant Muslims focus their charitable giving on the communities they left behind.

“For me, my faith is a big part of what I do,” Mr. Smith said, pointing to the story of a Christian king ofAbyssinia, or modern Ethiopia, who granted asylum to a group of Muslims sent by the Prophet Muhammad to escape persecution in Mecca.

“Separating parents and children is just so evil, and our faith teaches us to be true,” he said. “If we’re causing that, oh boy, I don’t know how God is going to forgive us for it.”