I took on a pro bono citizenship case (I'm not an immigration lawyer). In the course of interviewing my client, we found out he was having issues getting a $15,000 INS bond returned. My client was detained in 2002 by the INS on an expired travel visa . To secure his release, he had to post the $15,000 bond. He obtained the money from his family in China and has documentation evidencing the wire transfer of the funds. The deportation/removal actions have long been vacated and he is now a legal permanent resident of the U.S. seeking citizenship.
My client's roommate at the time posted the bond with the immigration court with the family funds. Both were living in Los Angeles County.
I’ve checked with the Bond Recovery Unit of the INS and the $15,000 is still being held by them. The typical process is for the obligor on the bond to make a petition for its return. Unfortunately, after several months of searching for the roommate and sending letters and emails and making phone calls, we are unable to locate him. My client went so far as to fly from the east coast to the west coast to search for him with no luck.
I spoke with the Bond Recovery Unit at the INS regarding what to do in the event that the original INS obligor cannot be located. They didn’t have any specific advice, but indicated that they could probably accept a default judgment from a court of competition jurisdiction from the person seeking return of the bond funds indicating that the funds are rightfully theirs.
Has anyone dealt with this issue and if so and could provide some advice? Even better would be if someone has redacted precedent documents they might be willing to share? I have contacted AILA, HIAS and several other immigration assistance organizations and spoken to about 8 or 9 immigration lawyers to try to resolve this for my client, all with no luck, so any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much in advance.