Detention Dialogues

Detention Dialogues operates the first approved immigration detention visitation program in California at the West County Detention Facility (WCDF) in Richmond, California.  Watch this Univision segment above to learn more (apologies for the commercial)!

To enable all stakeholders—including government, community members, nonprofits, academia, business, and philanthropy—to leverage their own distinctive roles to address the growth in immigration detention. By maintaining positive relationships with these motivated actors, we (1) provide people in immigration detention with a link to the outside world, (2) educate the family of detained immigrants on their rights and responsibilities, and (3) encourage community dialogue on the ethical dimensions of migration-related detention in the United States.
Detention Dialogues es una organización enfocada en el problema de la detención de
inmigrantes, particularmente en el norte de California.  Nuestra misión es permitirle a todos los participantes involucrados–incluyendo al gobierno, miembros de la comunidad, organizaciones sin fines de lucro, instituciones académicas, de negocios y filantrópicas–nivelar su participación para enfrentar el creciente problema de la detención de inmigrantes. Al mantener relaciones positivas con todos los participantes, podemos (1) proveerle apoyo a los inmigrantes detenidos y un enlace con el mundo exterior, (2) educar a los familiares de los detenidos sobre sus derechos y responsabilidades, y (3) fomentar el diálogo comunitario en cuanto a las dimensiones éticas relacionadas a la detención migratoria en los EEUU.
Christina Fialho and Christina Mansfield started Detention Dialogues in 2010 with a grant from Santa Clara University’s Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education.  They started this visitation program in response to the growth nationally in immigration detention and the need locally to link detained immigrants with the tools and resources that will facilitate justice for them, their families, and our community.  Detention Dialogues’ visitation program at WCDF was approved by ICE in July 2011.  To learn more about the history, read Strategies and Stories for Starting an ICE-Approved Visitation Program.
La organización se creó en el año 2010 como respuesta al aumento de la detención de inmigrantes a nivel nacional, y la necesidad de vincular a los detenidos a nivel local con las herramientas y recursos que facilitarían la justicia para los detenidos, sus familias y nuestra comunidad. El programa de visitas fue aprobado en julio de 2011 a West County Detention Facility.  Para más información, contacto Christina Mansfield a
Visitation at WCDF:
The West County Detention Facility has one of the most restrictive visitation policies in the country. People in immigration detention must communicate with the officer on duty and fill out a visitor request slip for a pre-approved visit. Once the visit is approved, the person in detention must make an exorbitantly priced phone call to their loved one to tell them that a 30-minute visit has been scheduled at a specific date and time. People detained at WCDF are allowed only three pre-approved visitors.
To circumvent this restrictive visitation policy, Christina Mansfield and Christina Fialho began operating a pro bono hotline that allows people in immigration detention to call us for free to schedule visits.  Due to a change in staff at WCDF, Detention Dialogues visits at WCDF have been severely hampered. Please contact Christina Mansfield at to learn more and to see if you are eligible to be a visitor volunteer at WCDF.
Detention Dialogues in the News:
Ashley Hopkinson, “An American Friend: A Visitation Program for Immigration Detainees,” Oakland North, February 29, 2012.
Univision, February 8, 2012.
Rosario Vital, “A Dialogue of Hope for Detainees/Un Diálogo de Esperanza Para Los Detenidos,” El Observador, February 4, 2011.

  • “It was a very difficult time in my life. I had never committed any crime. My only crime was not having documents. I experienced moments in solitude without communication and you have no idea what will happen in the next hour,” said Emma, the 21-year-old. With thousands of similar situations like that of Emma’s, Detention Dialogues tries to fill a gap faced by immigrants who have no relatives in this country and remain in prison indefinitely without any community contacts.”

Jack Crittenden, “When Passion Turns to Action,” The National Jurist Magazine, February 2011.
Detention Dialogues also has been featured in Bender’s Immigration Bulletin and AILA’s Voice: An Immigration Dialogues as well as on radio shows such as Hecho en California on KIQI and Punto de Encuentro con Paty Monterrosa on KCNL 104.9 FM.