Adán de Jesús Lima Hernández arrived undocumented and seeking asylum at the U.S. border in March 2014 after surviving a horrific attack on the streets of Guatemala City. Only 17 years old at the time, Adán spent seven months at a shelter for unaccompanied children in Fairfax, California, but on his 18th birthday, he was transferred to a county jail and held in adult immigration detention. CIVIC successfully secured Adan’s release from detention and coordinated with community volunteers for his long-term housing and transportation to immigration court appearances as well as raised funds to help support Adán personal costs.
HISTORY OF THE PROJECT
The Post Release Accompaniment Project (PRAP) began as a collaboration between CIVIC, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice-CA, and Centro Legal de La Raza to ensure the long-term sustainability of a safe release program for asylum seekers at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond, California. As a volunteer-based initiative, PRAP provides direct services to both people in detention and their loved ones; for example, PRAP volunteers advocate for release from detention as well as provide transportation, hospitality and legal services upon release. Our model challenges the notion that detention is necessary, while also providing diverse support to immigrants to ameliorate suffering and achieve freedom. In the first six months of the project, we secured the safe release of 61 asylum seekers from detention nationwide.
This model of community-based support is gaining traction nationally, as it is less costly and more humane than detention, and just as effective at ensuring court appearances and protecting the community. In fact, our community-based post release project costs taxpayers $0 as it is a volunteer-run and privately-funded initiative, compared to detention that costs taxpayers $166 per person per day. Through the initiative of CIVIC-affiliated visitation programs across the country, partnerships with like-minded national organizations, our collaborative relationships with government agencies, our model of community-based support has the potential to eliminate arbitrary detention.
A BIT ON HOW PRAP WORKS
We know that the government is more likely to release individuals from detention if they have an attorney and can provide a stable address for where they will live. Moreover, we know individuals are more likely to have their case adjudicated fairly, if offered safe and appropriate guidance in understanding the detention system as well as the terms of their release. PRAP helps hundreds of newly arrived asylum seekers reunite with their families in the United States by connecting them to community volunteers who visit them while in detention, advocate for their release, pick them up from the detention facility upon release, feed them, clothe them, coordinate a transportation plan with their family in other parts of the country, and escort them through airport security.
We are looking to continue to grow this program and engage new volunteers in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond! If you have the availability to help with tasks such as transportation, short-term housing, and donation coordination in the San Francisco area, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (510) 410-6711. To volunteer in any other part of the country, please email email@example.com.