Seeking Advocacy Team Member Volunteer

Hours per week: 2-3 hrs per week

Volunteer Description:

Introduction

Immigration detention is cruel and inhumane. Many people detained at Stewart Detention Center (SDC) are subjected to verbal and physical abuse, medical neglect, violation of their civil rights to organize and protest, retaliation, solitary confinement, and access issues. Stewart also has one of the highest deportation rates in the U.S. partly because more than 94%[1] of people don’t have legal representation and there is a large gap in legal resources for people detained.

Volunteer Position Summary

El Refugio’s Advocacy Team Member will work in coordination with a team of volunteers and staff to ensure appropriate action is taken to respond to the needs and requests for advocacy on behalf of people detained at SDC and their loved ones. We seek volunteers passionate about accompanying people detained and fighting to abolish the U.S. immigration detention system.

El Refugio’s Advocacy Team Member will be assigned 2-3 cases of individuals detained at SDC who either lack legal representation or are working in coordination with the legal provisions and their loved ones to advocate for their release. The Advocacy Team Member’s main responsibility will be partnering with the person detained to support them in self-advocacy by gathering information and drafting possible pro se advocacy actions in each case.

Qualifications

  • Dedicated to working with and supporting immigrants directly affected by the U.S. immigration detention system.
  • Good communication and organizational skills.
  • Spanish proficiency (fluency is strongly preferred).
  • Capable of using an online database, Google Documents, and Google Sheets.
  • Basic knowledge of immigration detention procedures (no legal background necessary, but some knowledge is strongly preferred)

Main responsibilities

  • Be the point of contact with family members and people in detention to gather information about the case assigned
  • Coordinate translation of documents into English
  • Draft parole request letters, official complaints to CRCL office, Fraihat requests, or other letters/actions to request the release of individuals from detention using pre-created templates
  • Attend short biweekly meetings with Advocacy Team to share case updates
  • Assist Advocacy Team Leader with larger advocacy-based projects on an as needed basis

 Mission and Core Activities of El Refugio Ministry

We are a ministry of hospitality and visitation serving immigrants detained at the Stewart Detention Center and their loved ones.

Hospitality

Our hospitality house, two miles from SDC, offers welcome, support, love, and respect to families and friends of those in detention. We provide lodging, meals, affirmation, and companionship to all of our guests. We assist with clothing and travel expenses when possible. Our home is a refuge of hospitality for those suffering from the intentionally inhospitable system of immigration detention.

Visitation

We visit immigrants and asylum-seekers who have no one else to visit them. Our visitation and letter- writing programs are rooted in the ethic of presence. Working against the radically dehumanizing system of immigration detention, we believe our most powerful role is simply to be present to the people we visit in detention – to recognize their full humanity, to see them face-to-face, to hear them, and to build relationships with them. Through our sustained presence, we also aim to hold Core Civic and ICE accountable for their treatment of detained immigrants.

Education and Witness for Advocacy

Each year, we host hundreds of visitors from faith communities, schools, and civic groups. After offering an orientation on the U.S. immigration and detention systems, we accompany our guests to SDC to meet with individuals who have been detained. Following the visits, we debrief about their experience visiting detained immigrants, as well as the realities of detention, and our civic responsibilities in light of what we have learned. We also offer presentations and dialogue to educate the public about immigration detention. Our work bears witness to the historic crisis of immigration detention and encourages visitors to advocate for more just immigration policies.

Please contact Savannah Lengnick at savannah@elrefugioministry.org if you are interested.

[1] Shadow Prison Report – SPLC, Page 11