Each year in California, over 24,000 people are detained by ICE, often taken from their homes and workplaces, leaving family members frightened on the outside as they are held for months, or even years while awaiting their immigration hearings.
Currently, a volunteer network is all these people have to help them navigate a confusing system. These volunteers help the detained stay connected with their families, fill out necessary paperwork, and assist them in getting home following their release.
Now, a group of those volunteers is working to start a new project, Help Detained Immigrants, as a way to expand these vital services. Right now, they are seeking assistance with grant writing and are looking for help putting together the paperwork together to attain 501c3 status. Their goal is to put together an administrative center to work directly with those who have been detained and their families to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks.
When “Angelica,” a grandmother from Honduras, was detained with her six-year-old grandson while attempting to seek asylum at the border last year, she was separated from her grandchild, and was shuffled through a number of detention facilities before finding herself at the Mesa Verde Detention Center in Bakersfield. She was terrified and didn’t know what to do. Then, one of the other detainees gave her the phone number of someone in our volunteer network, who quickly got to work helping her navigate. The volunteer helped her connect with a series of services so she was able to locate her family on the outside, and he also helped her obtain a bail bond through RAICES, allowing her to leave the facility and go to Texas to pick up her grandson from the children’s facility where he was being held–a trip that the volunteer helped coordinate–reuniting this family.
Help Detained Immigrants will expand these types of vital efforts, working one-on-one to assist hundreds of detainees its first year. This project is designed to scale up and out, and with enough support it could grow to help many more detainees within and beyond California.
Right now, Help Detained Immigrant is seeking assistance writing grants, and any other forms of assistance folks can offer. If you can help with grant writing, or know of someone who can, please reach out to Rodrigo Torres at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, if you are interested in helping in some other way, here is a form you can fill out.
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