Ministry & Service for Immigrants in Detention
Every year, thousands of people pass through the ICE Detention Center in Tacoma, WA, one of the largest in the country.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement detains people at the 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 is expired.
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.
For many, the experience of detention is incredibly isolating and traumatic.
Window Visits & Correspondence
Drawing on our Christian roots, World Relief's Detention Center ministry staff and volunteers provide access to spiritual practice and care for individuals seeking such support while in detention. Ministry staff and volunteers from local churches visit individuals at the Detention Center, providing accompaniment, companionship, encouragement, compassionate listening and prayer for detainees requesting this support.
World Relief also coordinates a letter correspondence program to provide requesting detainees encouragement and care during an often difficult season.
Window visits are on hold as the detention center remains closed to in-person volunteers due to COVID-19.
Multi-Lingual Worship Services
World Relief's detention center ministry facilitates multi-lingual Christian worship services and Bible studies inside the detention center for any detainees seeking such spiritual support. For many, this is a time of great support, catharsis and encouragement during an incredibly challenging time. Alongside this work, World Relief also advocates for all detainees to be able to access any desired spiritual care while detained.
Weekend worship services are on hold as the detention center remains closed to in-person volunteers due to COVID-19.
When individuals are released from detention, they are often thousands of miles from where they were first detained and it can be a bewildering experience to figure out what to do next. Our post-release team and volunteers greet people with a warm smile and provide crucial services and resources to help individuals navigate their next steps.
World Relief Western Washington partners with AID NW to host a Welcome Center RV just outside the ICE Processing Facility. Volunteers receive released detainees and help them navigate the next steps on their journey. This involves helping people contact family and friends, providing guidance for travel to a next destination, navigation to host homes and temporary housing, and supplying food, backpacks and clothing.
Post Deportation Assistance
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.
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