A Growing Network Aims to End the Isolation and Abuse of Detained Immigrants
At this very moment, there are more than 32,000 individuals in U.S. immigration detention, many of them far away from their families and completely separated from the outside world. To alleviate their isolation, communities across the United States are participating in the National Visitation Month of Action organized by Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC).
Men and women are in immigration detention while they determine their immigration status. Those detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) include lawful permanent residents, asylum seekers, crime victims, and survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking—many of them with U.S. citizen relatives and deep ties to local communities.
“This holiday season while people across the country gather with friends and relatives in celebration, thousands of families will be torn apart by immigration detention,” said Christina Fialho, co-founder/executive director of CIVIC. “As these men and women are in civil, non-criminal custody, they have no right to a court-appointed attorney, a free phone call, or visitation.”
CIVIC fights for a right to visitation and connects detained immigrants to a community of support and advocacy on the outside. These innovative visitation programs offer not only friendship, but also connections to legal, medical, and post-release support. Visitation programs create a consistent community presence in otherwise invisible detention facilities, placing CIVIC volunteers in a unique and vital position to protect the human rights of detained immigrants and ensure each person remains connected to the outside world.
The Month of Action marks the three-year anniversary of the national visitation movement’s struggle to end the isolation and abuse of detained immigrants. Today, CIVIC’s grassroots, volunteer-based network is vast and growing, with the goal of starting 18 new visitation programs in the next 2 years. With coordinated actions occurring during the month of December in over 20 cities in 15 states, CIVIC advocates are rising up to address the serious effects the U.S. immigration detention system has on human life.
This month, visitor volunteers are supporting hundreds of immigrants, like Ana who was detained for over a year even though she was a victim of human trafficking. Her experience highlights the unnecessary cruelty that plagues the civil immigration detention system. She was torn away from her 8-year old daughter, sexually assaulted by male guards, and thrown into solitary confinement. CIVIC ended Ana’s isolation and abuse by visiting her weekly for over a year, connecting her to an attorney, and reuniting her with her 8-year old daughter.
To celebrate this Month of Action, CIVIC is hosting a kick-off virtual fundraiser to raise $15,000 by the end of the year, with all proceeds going toward the creation of 3 new visitation programs in 3 months. To support this work or take part in this National Visitation Month of Action, visit www.endisolation.org.
If you would like more information please visit CIVIC’s Press Kit and call Christina Fialho at 385-21-CIVIC or email her at CFialho@endisolation.org.