CIVIC-Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement-is
an organization that works to "end the isolation and abuse of men
and*women in U.S. immigration detention by building and
strengthening*volunteer-run community visitation programs." The idea is
that if ordinary people visit detained immigrants, the immigrants will
feel more connected and more hopeful, and the detention facilities (many
of which are run by private, for-profit corporations) will not be able
to get away with abusing detainees.*

The protection aspect of CIVIC's mission reminds me of Amnesty
International, which calls attention to individuals at risk of abuse
through letter writing campaigns. The hope is that if the abuser knows
he is being watched, he is less likely to harm the victim.*

"Remember... Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

Based on my experience with detained clients, it seems to me that
CIVIC's goals of offering hope and protection to detained immigrants are
(unfortunately) very necessary. Many people in immigration detention
have no criminal record and are not dangerous to the community. Some are
minors. Others are asylum seekers who suffered persecution and torture
in their home countries. These people remain detained for months and
sometimes years. The emotional (and physical) toll of such detention can
be quite devastating.

CIVIC is currently working to expand its visitation program, in accordance with ICE's Visitation Directive,
which was designed to help facilitate visits to detention facilities.
In furtherance of this goal, CIVIC has released the following statement:

Every day, immigrants disappear and are
detained by the U.S. government. For example, Ana is a human trafficking
victim who was detained for over a year, locked in solitary
confinement, and forced by a guard to sleep on the cement floor of her
cell until CIVIC ended this isolation and abuse. Over 32,000 immigrants
like Ana remain isolated in remote detention facilities today because no
law protects a right to visitation, phone calls cost up to $5.00 per
minute, and 46% of detained migrants are transferred at least twice
during their detention-often out of state and away from their families.

CIVIC is changing this reality by
building and strengthening community visitation programs that are
dedicated to ending the isolation and abuse of men and women in
immigration detention.* Visitation programs connect persons in civil
immigration detention with community members. These volunteer visitors
provide immigrants in detention with a link to the outside world, while
also preventing human rights abuses by creating a community presence in
otherwise invisible detention facilities.

CIVIC recently released A Guide to Touring U.S. Immigration Detention Facilities & Building Alliances,
designed for communities across the country hoping to start a
visitation program using ICE's new Visitation Directive. *The benefit of
this resource is that the general guidelines are tailored to the unique
request of using the Visitation Directive as a tool to establish
contact and set up a permanent visitation program. In addition, this
manual provides an overview of some of the successes and roadblocks
visitation programs have encountered in the first year of the Visitation
Directive's existence.

CIVIC is setting in motion a national
movement to combat the isolating experience of immigration detention.
*To get involved or for more information, please visit their website at*

In some parts of the country-like the DC metro area-we have a well established visitation program (thank you CAIR Coalition).
But in many areas, detained immigrants are much more isolated. For
people looking for an interesting and rewarding volunteer experience,
CIVIC's program offers an excellent way to get involved and to help
people who are in great need.

Originally posted on the Asylumist: