Every year, thousands of people pass through the Northwest Immigration Detention Center in Tacoma, WA, one of the largest in the country.
There is a great need for care, community, and spiritual freedom for detained immigrants
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detains people at the Detention Center for many reasons: sometimes they crossed borders without permission, sometimes they have committed a crime while in the US on a visa, and often their immigration status documentation contains errors or expires. Detainees are sent to this facility from all over the country. Some stay in the center for only a few weeks, others up to several years. Some have been living in the US for years or even decades, and many are separated from families on the outside.
Volunteers from World Relief and local churches visit men and women at the Immigration Detention Center in Tacoma every Saturday and Sunday to coordinate services--listening, talking and praying with detainees eager for visitors. During one of 8 weekend services, detainees attend a time of worship and Bible study with a team of volunteers who help to interpret in various languages including Spanish, Russian, Mandarin and many others.
Volunteers from local churches are trained to pray for and encourage fellow believers during their time in detention. They meet with or write letters to detainees to encourage them in their spiritual journey, and walk through the detention experience with them.
Volunteers serve at the "Welcome Center" receiving released detainees and helping them navigate the next steps on their journey after being let out of the Immigration Detention Center. This involves; assisting detainees contacting family and friends, guidance for travel to a next destination, navigation to host homes and temporary housing, physical supplies of food, backpacks and clothing.
Volunteers host recently released detainees in their homes for 1 to 3 days while they navigate their transportation to a destination outside the Seattle-Tacoma metro area. Volunteers often help these detainees, and their family across the country, understand how to purchase more affordable tickets, and navigate SeaTac airport.
World Relief staff and partners help detainees plan for their deportation back to their country of origin. This involves connection for the detainee back to a local area with a welcoming faith community and connection social services. This is important for many detainees are returning to places they left as children, or haven't been back to in decades. Detainees are also given backpacks, clothing and travel supplies as available.
To assist in providing resources and connections, please contact Jose-Luis Bonilla at (253) 344-6732 or email@example.com
To more effectively minister to immigrant detainees, World Relief envisions:
A Bible and study materials for each detainee who requests them
A large, diverse group of volunteers to visit and meet the needs of detainees during their time in detention and after they exit detention
Local churches and communities educated about immigration issues and how they can advocate for the needs of detainees and their families