One cryptocurrency project is using Monero (XMR) to give undocumented immigrants a better shot at a fair treatment in the United States judicial system.
The Bail Bloc project collects cryptocurrency to help people get out of pretrial incarceration for cases with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Unlike conventional charities, Bail Bloc doesn’t want your money — it wants your computer processing power.
Cointelegraph reached out to Bail Bloc co-creator Grayson Earle for deeper insight into the initiative.
Detainees make bail with Monero
Users download a special app that uses between 10% and 50% of their overall processor capacity— the user can set the rate — to mine the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency Monero.
Bail Bloc trades its XMR for U.S. dollars every month and then donates the sum on a rotating basis to the bail funds in the National Bail Fund Network.
“The idea is to get people to volunteer their spare computing power to mine, so it doesn't require them to make any cash donations. It's like creating an ad hoc supercomputer with the purpose of mining cryptocurrency,” said Earle.
ICE detention and who ends up there
ICE’s operations target individuals “who present a danger to national security” and “undermine the integrity of the immigration system”. However, most detainees are undocumented immigrants who otherwise have no criminal records and are detained simply for unlawful entry to the U.S.
In ICE detention, people can pay an immigration bond in exchange for their immediate release, but less than half of those in detention are given a bond hearing. Those who cannot afford to pay the bond, or who are not granted a bond at all, must wait for their court hearing while detained, which could last from months to years.
Additionally, ICE’s treatment of detainees has repeatedly raised concerns of violence, inappropriate segregation practices, foodservice issues, lack of recreation, and even violations of medical ethics.
While Bail Bloc was initially created for individuals in the American prison system, Earle said, "We've since re-oriented the project to pay immigration bonds for people affected by Trump's policies. This includes people who are not citizens of the U.S. who might be living here."
Bail Bloc steps in
Bail Bloc has mined cryptocurrency for the Immigrant Bail Fund since November 2018. The fund pays bonds for people in ICE detention across Connecticut, where the $15,000 immigration bond is nearly double the national average.
There are currently some 300 users running Bail Bloc on their computers, but the number is subject to fluctuation. “At its height, we had 2,500 users at peak hours, including Grimes as she actively used it while recording her new album,” Earle revealed.
It’s true — popular musician Grimes, (who was romantically linked to tech billionaire Elon Musk) tweeted about the project back in 2017, encouraging her fans to get involved:
“Downloaded bail bloc onto my comp. mines crypto currency 2 pay ppls bail; SO cool! & so easy..."
It's not surprising that Bail Bloc chose Monero as its digital currency of choice. “The anonymity of everyone we have helped to release from pre-trial detention is paramount,” Earle said, adding:
“I chose Monero because it was a fairly stable coin and is ASIC-resistant. I knew that our target participant had a laptop so we needed CPU mining to be viable. More recently, Monero has made GPU mining less viable which also improves the viability of our project.”