Yefri Sorto-Hernandez Escaping Bullies in El Salvador; Escaping Unreasonable Bails in North Carolina
Two years ago, Yefri Sorto-Hernandez thought fleeing for his life was a smart decision. The gang violence in El Salvador was too much and prolonging his stay would be a death sentence. So, he made the decision to save his life and move.
Two years later, Sorto-Hernandez re-evaluated his decision as he faced an immigration raid and a $30,000 bail bond payment.
Yefri-Sorto’s Immigration Case
On December 2015, Sorto-Hernandez was about to attend school in Charlotte, North Carolina when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers picked him up for deportation proceedings. He was detained at Lumpkin Detention Center for nearly six months, helplessly seeking help from family and friends and hoping to go back to school.
A supposed ray of hope was shed when he received word about bail on January 2016. But when the courts informed Sorto-Hernandez that he needed to pay a $30,000 bond to be released from detention, everyone was struck.
Apart from family, friends, and other loved ones, communities questioned the fairness of the set bail. For Sorto-Hernandez’s low-income family, paying the $30,000 bail was impossible. Julie Yihong Mao, an Enforcement Fellow from the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, told local organization ThinkProgress, “High bond effectively means no bond particularly for low-income communities. Yefri has already been detained for more than 6 months, with this high bond amount, he faces the scary prospect of a long indefinite incarceration.”
The Thing About High Bail Prices
Bail bonds in Raleigh, NC consider different factors before determining the appropriate bail amount. The nature of the crime, likelihood to appear in court, and the individual’s criminal history play vital roles in setting the bail amount.
In terms of immigration cases, authorities usually set the bond prices based on the likelihood of an immigrant to be a flight risk or a threat to public safety. If the individual has been deported previously, their case calls for a higher bail.
Sorto-Hernandez, however, did not fit any of the categories.
Expensive bail bond prices used to be a rare occurrence reserved for individuals with long criminal histories. Today, unfortunately, it has become a common issue for detained border crossers, despite not having criminal records. Some officials argue that setting the bail price at a high amount is necessary in discouraging border crossers from journeying to the United States.
Not everyone is capable of paying $30,000 to get their loved ones out of prison. Fortunately, there are other means of help.
How Families Can Cope
Hiring the help of a bail bondsman is one of the choices for low-income families with loved ones in prison. When a family member is incarcerated, coming up with the money to bail them out within a short-period of time is impossible. The bail bondsman can cover for most of the costs firsts. They will take responsibility for the rest of the charge, asking clients to pay for 10%, usually.
If the defendant, however, fails to show up for the court date, they must pay the full amount (plus other interests) to the bail bondsman.
In Sorto-Hernandez’s case, they resolved to group funding to raise the money needed for his $30,000 case. Because of his strong community support, his family created a GoFundMe site for supporters to donate money. Their efforts paid off and he was eventually released on bail last June 2016.
While Sorto-Hernandez had a peaceful cap off his turbulent immigration case, there are more like him. Immigration supporters and activists can only hope that the future is better for kids in a similar situation.