National Visitation Month: A Success!

With coordinated actions in over 20 cities in 15 states during December 2012, CIVIC advocates rose up during the National Visitation Month to address the serious effects the U.S. immigration detention system has on human life.  Read more about the Invisible Problem of Immigration Detention in this article written by CIVIC’s Christina Fialho.

CIVIC helped start two new visitation programs at the Santa Ana City Jail in California and the Aurora Detention Facility in Colorado.

Sara Mullally and the Arkansas Interfaith Conference continued to lead a team of volunteers who regularly visit people in immigration detention.  Learn more about immigration detention visitation from Sara in her article published here by CIVIC, The Dirty Path of Detention.  Also, congratulations to Sara who had another article published by the Arkansas Times

CIVIC’s Christina Fialho was sworn in as an attorney in the State of California.  The Christina Fialho is an attorney in California.ceremony took place at the Ventura County Jail, which also happens to be an immigration detention facility.  Christina looks forward to using her legal background to fight for a right to visitation, while continuing to advocate for men and women in U.S. immigration detention.

In Massachusetts, RIM continued to visit people detained at Suffolk County Jail, and CIVIC’s Christina Mansfield conducted a training for community members hoping to start a visitation program at the Plymouth County Jail.

In Illinois, in addition to weekly visits, 14 people volunteered to visit with men and women immigration detention visitation month of action.detained at the McHenry County Jail on Christmas Day and 17 volunteered for New Year’s Day.  They visited with approximately 70 men and women on each day from noon until 4pm.  


CIVIC’s Christina Fialho and Jan Meslin, coordinator of Friends of Orange County Detainees, organized a group of community members in California hoping to start a visitation program at the Adelanto Detention Facility.

In New York and New Jersey, visitor volunteers with IRATE & First Friends conducted their annual stamp out despair campaign this month to get each person in detention at Elizabeth a supply of stamped envelopes, greeting cards, writing paper and funds for phone service!

In Washington state, the Northwest Detention Center Roundtable hosted a showing of the film, The Visitor, to recruit volunteers for its emerging visitation program.  The group is looking forward to conducting its first volunteer training with Christina Fialho in late January and touring the Tacoma Northwest Detention Facility.

In Minnesota, two days before Christmas, volunteers gathered in the lobby of the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center in St. Paul to visit immigrants detained by ICE. After check in, obtaining their official passes, leaving cell phones, jackets, wallets and purses in lobby lockers, they entered the jail for one hour of in-person conversation.  For men and women in immigration detention at this facility, celebrating religious holidays, this is an especially difficult time: family visits are restricted to the lobby video phone or letters or expensive telephone calls.  These volunteer visitors associated with Rev. John Guttermann’s Conversations with Friends Visitor Program are the immigrants only non-official in-person visit until they are released or deported.  Read more in One Voice Minnesota.

In Texas, volunteers continued to visit people detained at the Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas.  Rocío Villalobos who coordinates this program shares more about how CIVIC visitor volunteers can prevent human rights abuses throughout 2013:

On December 2nd, the Restoration Project in Arizona gathered community volunteers to write letters to people in immigration detention.  Volunteers wrote nearly 250 cards with messages of hope, solidarity, and community to immigrants detained in Arizona.

In San Diego, California, 99 immigrants in detention signed up to be visited by SOLACE, showing the real need that visitors are meeting during the holiday season and every week of the year.

CIVIC released a manual on how to start visitation programs by requesting a tour of an immigration detention facility using ICE’s 2011 Visitation Directive.  Watch CIVIC’s on how to tour immigration detention facilities.

CIVIC was asked to present at the 2012 Statewide Immigrant Advocacy & Organizing Conference, hosted by the California Immigrant Policy Center.  CIVIC sent its Leadership Councilmember, Monica Hernandez.  Monica served on a panel, “Lost in Detention,” with Maria Hinojosa (Author and Journalist), Ahilan Arulanantham (Deputy Legal Director, ACLU of Southern California), and Sean Riordan (Staff Attorney, ACLU of San Diego).  Monica, who was Detention Dialogues’ first visitor volunteer, highlighted the immigration laws that allow for broad categories of non-citizens to be subject to mandatory detention, abuses within the detention system, and community responses to the growth in immigration detention.

Christina Mansfield spoke at Walking the Walk:  UU Legislative Ministry Leadership Summit.  Christina spoke about how to start a visitation program, resulting in interest from folks across California.

Christina Fialho spoke at World Relief’s conference, Life, Liberty, and the Law: Local Ministry Connection.  Christina spoke about how Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) representatives and other community members can engage and serve men and women in immigration detention.

In Georgia, Alterna continued to be a voice for justice at the United States’ largest National Visitation Month of Actiondetention center located in Lumpkin, GA. Through their hospitality house, El Refugio, and visitation program, volunteers spoke out this December against the injustices that happen within the confines of this detention center. 

Volunteers in DC, Maryland, and Virginia with The Washington-Area Detention Visitation Network remained concerned with trends towards more intensive, more local, and more punitive enforcement of immigration laws.  Throughout the National Visitation Month, they provided friendship and support by visiting people detained by ICE in Virginia.  They hope to expand to Maryland and southern Pennsylvania.


CIVIC’s first individual donor hosted CIVIC’s first fundraising house party in Brooklyn, New York, to raise awareness about immigration detention and the opportunity to visit.


CIVIC has big plans for 2013, and with you, there is nothing this movement cannot accomplish!  Happy New Year!

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