Crypto Initiative Donates Monero to Bail Out Immigrants in ICE Detention

The Bail Bloc initiative has started using cryptocurrency raised through charity to help people get out of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pretrial incarceration, according to a tweet posted by a Bail Bloc co-founder Nov. 15.

ICE is a law enforcement agency of the federal government of the U.S, the mission of which is to monitor cross-border crime and illegal immigration. In 2017, the agency conducted 143,470 overall administrative arrests, 92 percent of which resulted in a criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge.

In ICE detention people are required to pay an immigration bond in exchange for their immediate-term release, although statistically only 47 percent 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.

Bail Bloc has set a goal to help charged immigrants pay their bail with money raised through cryptocurrency mining. The initiative has released an app that consumes a small portion — from 10 percent by default to 50 percent optionally — of users’ computer power to mine Monero (XMR) once it is installed.

The organization states that at the end of every month it exchanges XMR for U.S. dollars and donates the earnings to the Immigrant Bail Fund in New Haven, Connecticut. Bail Bloc has reportedly mined 44.34 XMR, which equates to $7,356.36 U.S. dollars. This sum is enough to bail out 12 people, per the organization’s website.

Bail Bloc says it chose XMR as it is an ASIC-resistant cryptocurrency, meaning that consumer-level computers are able to mine the coin “in a financially viable way,” while computers designed with the sole purpose of crypto mining cannot.

ICE’s approach to immigration policy enforcement has sparked significant controversy in the U.S. In May, reports of federal authorities losing track of nearly 1,500 immigrant children in their custody made headlines. As the Washington Post reported, the children had been separated from their immigrant parents. Per the policy of prosecuting “100 percent” of those crossing the border illegally, children were separated from their parents as the adults were charged with a crime.

At press time, XMR is trading at around $87, down 0.82 percent over the past 24 hours, according to CoinMarketCap. The coin’s market capitalization is around $1.4 billion, while its daily trading volume is about $18.9 million.



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ICE CEO Won’t ‘Rule Out’ Crypto Futures Launch

The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) won’t “rule out” cryptocurrency-based futures contracts.

ICE chief executive Jeffrey Sprecher discussed the issue in an interview with Bloomberg TV Monday, saying it is “early days” for the asset class, but that he could not ignore the idea of cryptocurrency futures contracts. He kept his comments vague, not discussing any particular cryptocurrencies or whether ICE has any definite plans to offer futures contacts based on them.

He added:

“I wouldn’t rule anything out … There is a trend here we can’t ignore in my mind, so I don’t discount it. People put more faith in a guy named Satoshi Nakamoto that no one has ever met than they do in the U.S. Fed.”

One of ICE’s subsidiaries – the New York Stock Exchange – has already entered the cryptocurrency space with an investment in crypto exchange Coinbase in 2015. The NYSE has further invested in a number of clearing houses, exchanges and marketplaces specializing in futures, options, swaps and other instruments. ICE recently announced that it would acquire the Chicago Stock Exchange.

The NYSE also filed to list bitcoin futures late last year, though no products have been approved for launch yet.

The firm’s rivals CME Group and Cboe Global Markets introduced futures contracts based on bitcoin prices in December, and Nasdaq is considering following suit. It is possible that contracts based on other cryptocurrencies are in the making as well. Reports in November indicated that an unknown firm going by the name “Virtuoso” was developing ether futures, and Cboe’s boss in December floated the idea of ether and bitcoin cash futures.

Sprecher likened the growing embrace of crytpocurrencies to other developments in tech – how, for example, New Yorkers are willing to hop into a car operating on a ride-sharing platform like Uber of Lyft, even though it hasn’t undergone the type of inspections and vetting as a city-certified yellow cab.

When asked again if futures were coming, Sprecher demurred, saying “I wouldn’t rule out anything around currency.”

Cryptocurrency image via Shutterstock.

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