Re: 'Murica thread
« Reply #432 on: October 04, 2017, 07:05:18 PM »
The first person Rosy Valdez met when she left the immigrant detention center in Houston was a middle-aged man, who waited for her in the parking lot holding a photo of her and a stack of documents. The man asked her name in broken Spanish, then led her to his car.
They waited for three other immigrants to emerge, then headed to a fried chicken place. The newly free immigrants chatted about where they were going to live and work. After months of prison food, the chicken tasted “like it came from heaven,” Valdez said.
The stranger paid for their meals, then took the group to a nearby office. There, he and several others had them sign contracts, mostly in English, took their photos and strapped devices about the size of a ’90s-era cell phone around their ankles. “It scared me when I saw how big it was,” said Valdez.
The man was an employee of Libre by Nexus. Since 2013, the Virginia-based company has gotten thousands of immigrants out of detention by arranging for bail bondsmen to post immigration bonds. In exchange, customers pay the company hefty upfront fees and agree to wear GPS-equipped ankle monitors — a privilege for which Libre charges $420 a month, sometimes for years. Valdez asked her name be changed to prevent reprisals from the company.
Valdez, who fled Honduras in 2015 when gang members killed her husband, languished for three months in the Houston Contract Detention Facility with a $10,000 bond she had no way to pay. She was desperate to get out; the chances of winning an asylum case while locked up are abysmally low.
A fellow detainee eventually gave her Libre’s number, and she passed it to a friend in Austin who paid the company $2,500 in upfront charges. Within days she was free, with a court date set for November 2019.
Over the next year, Valdez paid Libre a total of $3,780 for the monitor, money she mostly earned working at a Mexican restaurant and babysitting for friends and family.
At first, Valdez believed she was paying down her $10,000 bond and working toward the day when the ankle monitor would be removed. But a few months after her release, she called Libre to check on her progress and was shocked to hear that the fees were merely a rental charge for the device — she was no closer to being free than the day she was released from detention. To get the monitor removed and settle up with Libre, she’d still have to pay the company $10,000, according to her contract.