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Wednesday, February 04, 2009


  • Educate others by hosting an informational meeting on immigration detention.
  • Coordinate with a local community agency involved in immigration and/or refugee work to send a representative to speak at a meeting. In turn, help them with their initiatives.
  • Volunteer to be the PR person for your local group and contact all types of media for stories on your work and the lives of individuals in detention.
  • Invite a former detained immigrant or another immigrant or refugee to come speak about their experience to your congregation.
  • View a documentary or video about immigration detention such as "The Visitor," written and directed by Tom McCarthy; "Abandoned," distributed by Bullfrog Films, and "Chasing Freedom."
  • Host a "welcoming fellowship" event that invites immigrant and/or refugee congregations to a shared event (such as a potluck, etc.) with your congregation and creates opportunities for interaction, shared stories, and budding friendships.
  • Involve your congregation in helping newly arrived immigrants learn English.
  • Be a Pen Pal to someone in immigration detention far from your home.
  • Gather materials that could be utilized by detained immigrants such as books, specifically language dictionaries, educational supplies, etc. for the detention center library (check your local detention center for guidelines).
  • Provide spiritual literature, books, and religious items for Religious Services Programs and local chaplains (e.g. Bibles, Torahs, and Qu’rans in various languages, rosaries, tefillin, prayer rugs, yarmulkes, Rastafarian crowns, kufis, crosses, devotionals, and other religious materials).
  • Be a friend and assist those who have been released from detention. Contact local services providers, in your community that assist those who have been released from detention or other immigrants and refugees, and find out how you can be involved in their efforts.
  • Provide temporary housing and assistance to a detained immigrant upon release from detention.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper in support of refugees and immigrants and the contributions they make to our country and your community.
  • During your personal devotional times and your worship services, pray for persons experiencing immigration problems and for those who are trying to meet their needs.
  • Offer a “minute for immigrants in detention” during your worship service. Sponsor an “Immigration Sabbath Service” around World Refugee Day (June 20), Independence Day (July 4), or Thanksgiving.
  • Organize your congregation to do focused reflection on immigration from a theological perspective - perhaps combine it with a Thanksgiving celebration.
  • Speak out against xenophobia and the scapegoating of foreigners when you hear it.
  • Transform your experience into policy change for fair, humane immigration reform that will unite families, reform visa policies, improve immigration detention conditions, make greater use of alternatives to detention, and allow undocumented immigrants to earn their legal status.
  • Network with local and national organizations; sign up for advocacy alerts offered by organizations advocating for immigrants and refugees.


This document has been adapted from the Detention Watch Network’s Visiting Immigrants in U.S. Detention Facilities.