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 during and after their time in detention
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detains people at the Detention Center for many reasons: some are awaiting their asylum claim to be processed, others may have crossed a border 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.
World Relief staff and partners help detainees plan for their deportation back to their country of origin. This involves making connections for the detainee in a local community, a welcoming faith community and connections to social services. This is important for many detainees who 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
World Relief partners with AID NW to host a Welcome Center RV just outside the NW Detention Center. Volunteers serve by receiving released detainees and helping them navigate the next steps on their journey. This involves helping people contact family and friends, guidance for travel to a next destination, navigation to host homes and temporary housing, and supplying food, backpacks and clothing.
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
Interested in volunteering at the Detention Center? The first step is to fill out a volunteer application. We will review the application and then send you an access code to RSVP to a volunteer training.
All volunteers are required to attend a volunteer training, complete an application, and undergo a background checks before starting. At the training you will learn about World Relief's work, the refugees and immigrants we serve, and what it looks like to come alongside them as volunteers in different roles