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New Guide By & For Visitation Groups: Strategies & Stories on Starting an ICE-Approved Visitation Program

April 18, 2012

For Immediate Release

Contact: Christina Fialho, CFialho@detentiondialogues.org

Strategies and Stories on Starting an ICE-Approved Visitation Program

April 17, 2012

Today, Detention Dialogues in California, the Catholic Sisters of Mercy in Illinois, and Conversations with Friends in Minnesota release a guide to help communities across the United States establish immigration detention visitation programs, which are approved by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Since the creation of ICE in 2003, over two million individuals have passed through ICE detention facilities in a network of over 250 jails and private prisons.  Men, women, and children can spend weeks, months, and sometimes years inside of these facilities with little connection to the outside world and limited access to legal, medical, or social resources.  To combat the isolating experience of immigration detention, communities throughout the United States are establishing volunteer-based visitation programs offering friendship and a connection to the outside world.  However, establishing a community visitation program at a U.S. immigration detention facility often takes years.

“Within the first six months of our attempt to establish Detention Dialogues, it became apparent that detention facilities, ICE, and community groups were working at odds on an issue that requires collaboration,” said Christina Fialho, co-founder of Detention Dialogues and Steering Committee Member of the Detention Watch Network.  “We hope this guide will help communities across the United States establish and grow immigration detention visitation programs with minimal barriers.”

The guide includes a step-by-step process to starting an ICE-approved visitation program and stories from three approved programs in Illinois, Minnesota, and California.  This guide also showcases visitation programs operating in Texas, New York, and New Jersey that function through other alliances.

To access the guide in its entirety, click on: Strategies and Stories on Starting and ICE-Approved Visitation Program

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