There are many ways to engage in detention visitation ministry through direct and indirect means. The first step is identifying if an immigration detention center is located nearby. Freedom for Immigrants maintains a national map of immigrant detention centers and the only national network of detention visitation programs. Those hearing a call to accompany an asylum seeker in detention may consult Freedom for Immigrants’ comprehensive detention visitation guide and this case study from a member of EMM’s Asylum & Detention Ministry Network.

If there is not an active detention visitation ministry in your area, we recommend that you reach out to community organizations in your area to build partnerships and support, and then reach out to an existing detention visitation ministry to learn how they got started.

Some activities associated with accompanying asylum seekers in detention include:

Supporting the Detainee

  • Visitation
  • Letter writing
  • Legal referrals
  • Commissary support
  • Books
  • Court accompaniment
  • Writing letters of support
  • Medical/mental health advocacy
  • Advocacy for release/parole

Supporting the Detainee’s Family or Sponsor

  • Connect to resources (local and national: legal services, social services, mental health care)
  • Informational support about visitation, sending money, case status
  • Transportation: to the detention center, court, to the attorney
  • Spiritual and emotional support
  • Job placement and training
  • Financial assistance
  • Short-term lodging for family members visiting from out of town
  • Translation and interpretation
  • Housing

Other Activities:

  • Public policy advocacy
  • Community education
  • Volunteer coordination
  • Media relations
  • Fundraising