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Boston Financier’s Newest Fund

Last week, a California wrestling promoter put on a match to raise funds for immigrants arrested in a raid. He brought in $4,000. Two days earlier, a Boston millionaire had put up $200,000 to bail out 40 factory workers arrested in an immigration raid last March. (Sign of the times: they were making vests and backpacks for U.S. soldiers in the Middle East.)

The 40 immigrants, among 361 arrested at the time, were to be sent to Texas to await deportation — unless they posted bail. They got the money from an unexpected benefactor, Bob Hildreth, who had lived in Bolivia and made his money trading Latin American bonds. Hildreth has already given several million dollars for literacy and citizenship classes in Lynn, Mass.; for a preschool in an Boston neighborhood with many immigrant residents, and for an endowed chair in Latin American studies at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Hildreth said that breaking up these families was "extremely un-American."

That’s not what everyone thought. A local talk-radio show said, "I would ask him to show the same compassion for American workers displaced by these illegal aliens." That’s the kind of talk-radio show that does not mention off-shoring, or union-busting, or a foundering economy, in connection with jobs — at least not when blaming immigrants. And Hildreth can expect more of the same. A local lawyer who represents some of the immigrants warned, "He’ll get hate mail."

As cases are resolved, Hildreth has gotten back some of the bail money he posted. He’s now putting it aside as a fund for future cases.

Maybe he can get some others to invest in the fund.

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