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January 16th, 2020

Visit with or write to detained immigrants in the U.S.

type:NGO, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

The United States currently has the largest immigration detention system in the world.

This did not happen overnight. For decades, under the leadership of multiple administrations, immigration laws in the U.S. have become stricter, and the treatment of migrants turned harsher and harsher. 

Detention and oppression of immigrants and migrants in the United States has grown exponentially worse under the Trump administration, with the latter introducing policies that prevented their release and gave free rein to immigration officials and prison guards to treat humiliate, neglect, and abuse them. 

Thousands of detained migrants are reporting brutal treatment and harsh punishments by the prison guards and subhuman conditions in the facilities. Dozens of migrants, including young children and toddlers, have already died in federal custody. 

Over one thousand imprisoned migrants have been launching hunger strikes to protest their treatment and indefinite imprisonment. 

The Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention (AVID) in the Chihuahuan Desert is a non-profit organisation conducting visits with detained immigrants in the El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico areas and advocating for migrants’ rights.

AVID’s volunteers conduct frequent visits to accompany migrants held in detention facilities, which greatly helps migrants feel less isolated and lonely. In some cases, such visits also help to alleviate the migrants’ experience of trauma. 

The organisation’s team also corresponds with detained migrants as pen pals, which enables them to maintain contact with them in cases where visitations are not possible. 

AVID conducts research into the conditions and experience of detained migrants and utilise its data toward advocacy efforts on behalf of immigrants. It also promotes humane alternatives to the brutal and expensive practice of detaining immigrants while their applications are being processed. 

If you or anyone you know are held at an immigration detention center, please contact AVID. 

Please visit their website to read more about the plight of detained immigrants and learn about ways in which you can help. AVID is constantly recruiting new volunteers who are interested in conducting visits or writing letters to immigrants in detention. 

Image: AVID website. 

avid.chihuahuan.org