Every day, ICE scoops up people of Mexican origin from federal, state, and local jails and takes them to the border. Their funds do not go with them. In the first half of 2017, people deported to Nogales recovered $117,532.04 from their jail accounts through our unique “check-cashing service.” Volunteers have developed multiple recovery methods to use based on whether a person was deported with an unusable check, debit card, or neither.
Unlike every other agency that places detainers on jail inmates and takes custody of them, ICE refuses to accept inmates’ funds—which it would then have to give to them in an accessible form upon release. A jail, in order to transfer the inmate’s funds to the agency that has placed a detainer, issues a check payable to the inmate. But ICE, instead of using that check in the customary way to transfer the funds to its own accounts, simply hands it to the person and deports them with it, pretending not to know that it can only be cashed in the United States.
The Nogales check-cashing service is an example of material solidarity: people of conscience sharing their access to US banking resources with people unjustly denied such access. And it is an example of commitment to humanitarian aid for all the criminalized, including those with non-immigration-related felony convictions.