Advocates for Immigrants in Detention Northwest
We welcome and support people affected by immigration detention by connecting them to resources and the community
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The AIDNW post-detention Welcome Center, located in an RV outside the release gate of the Northwest Detention Center, has been in operation since July 2015. Staffed by trained volunteers, the Welcome Center is open Monday through Friday from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. to serve the needs of released immigrants and their families. Each week, some 30-40 immigrants are released from the Detention Center.
Welcome Center volunteers provide a welcoming place for immigrants to experience their first moments of freedom, with telephone access to call family or friends, assistance in arranging onward travel, warm clothing as needed, backpacks and document bags to carry their belongings, snacks and soft drinks, and arrangements for safe housing for those who need temporary shelter.
Most importantly, immigrants released from detention immediately receive a heartfelt welcome by a community of people who reaffirm that they deserve to be treated with dignity.
AIDNW leases a house in Tacoma to provide housing for immigrants who are released from the NW Detention Center and need a place to stay, whether it be for a night or a month.
Our Post-Detention Accompaniment Network (PDAN) and office volunteers assist them by helping with transportation, filling out intake and referral forms, and making sure they have enough food and clean bedding. See PDAN tab for more details.
AIDNW volunteers have been visiting detainees at the Northwest Detention Center since 2013. Our Visitation Program expanded substantially in 2018, building on a positive relationship with Detention Center management. Detainees can now telephone AIDNW on a dedicated line to request a visitor. Requests have increased dramatically as a result, and we are actively recruiting and training more volunteers for the program in order to answer this need.
How can visits from a stranger help people in detention?
The Detention Center holds people for months before they are released or deported. Detainees must await the decision of an immigration judge while their case is pending, or for the final adjudication of their case that may or may not allow them to continue their lives in the U.S. Many detainees come from a great distance and do not have friends or family near enough to visit regularly. They may worry for families left without their support. In the face of this uncertainty and isolation, friendly and consistent visits from community members can provide a vital sense of connection to the outside world.
AIDNW Visitation Volunteers offer regular visits to immigrant detainees at the Northwest Detention Center. Visitors offer listening ears and compassionate hearts in an act of friendship to reduce isolation and affirm each person’s human dignity and worth. Our volunteers are not attorneys or social workers, but are everyday citizens from all walks of life, who visit in an act of friendship, and the desire to affirm the human dignity and worth of every individual.
How does the Visitation Program work?
AIDNW office volunteers receive requests from interested detainees and match requests with Visitation Program volunteers. Visitors then plan to visit their matched immigrant partners at least twice a month. Ideally, each match continues for the duration of the immigrant’s detention, but re-matches are made if a visitor must withdraw, or when either party requests an end to the match. It is not necessary for volunteers to be fluent in a language other than English.
Those interested in volunteering begin by attending an AIDNW volunteer orientation session, submitting a volunteer application, and undergoing a background check. One of our two visitation mentors then meet with new volunteers at the Detention Center for one on one orientation and training. Quarterly meetings provide opportunities for Visitation Volunteers to ask questions and discuss any program changes. Volunteers also share experiences through a Google group email list.
If you are interested in attending a Volunteer Orientation, which are held quarterly, please email email@example.com
Post-Detention Accompaniment Network
Some immigrants who have been released do not immediately leave Tacoma. These are people who have been granted asylum or been released on bond, and they may be eligible for various social and community services. AIDNW volunteers assist immigrant guests at our Hospitality House in accessing services by providing transportation to:
- the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) office in Tacoma for food cards
- the ORCA lift at DSHS for discounted bus passes (Thursdays only)
- World Relief offices in Kent for work permits, Social Security Cards, job placement, ESL classes, and permanent housing
- Tacoma Community House for work permits, Social Security cards, ESL classes and job placements
- Local medical facilities
- Local food banks
- The bus station for onward travel
AIDNW volunteers also offer the simple gifts of companionship and other welcoming support to our Hospitality House guests.
This can include:
- Taking guests on outings to the park, library, local theater, etc.
- Cooking a meal for guests
- Sharing a craft or skill
- Sorting donations of clothing, household items, toiletries, etc.
- Cleaning and doing laundry after each guest relocates
- Gardening and yard work
If you are interested in becoming a PDAN volunteer please contact Deborah Cruz firstname.lastname@example.org.
When immigrants are unable to hear the voices of family and friends because of a lack of resources, we end that silence by providing phone cards to connect them with the outside world.
In 2018 AIDNW provided $1800 in phone cards to immigrants detained in the NWDC.
News and Events
Changes to our programs under COVID 19
- The AIDNW Welcome Center is working outdoors and we are taking all necessary precautions to protect both our volunteers and our guests.
- Hospitality House is only accepting people who are released who need to wait a few hours for transportation. No overnight stays are allowed at this time.
- PDAN volunteer drivers are busy taking released immigrants to the airport or to hotels for overnight stays before airport travel.
- Visits are not allowed inside the Detention Center, but our volunteer visitors continue to connect with detainees by writing letters.
- Clothing and other in-kind donations are being accepted only through our Amazon Wish list and can no longer be dropped at the house.
- Monetary donations continue to be accepted through the mail and the website https://aidnw.org/how-to-donate/
GiveBIG campaign success!
Through GiveBIG and GivingTuesday AIDNW received $16,600 from 143 generous donors--surpassing our goal by over 50%! We are so grateful for your support, which is the lifeline of AIDNW, a volunteer-driven non-profit organization whose services are funded 100% by donations and grants. Thank you!
Stay in Touch
Join our Google Group
Join our email Google Group to receive notification of news and events, current volunteer opportunities and donation needs.
9:30 – 11:00 a.m.
Our Community Meeting Roundtable will be held online as a Zoom Webinar, which can be accessed by computer or phone. If you would like to attend, please email email@example.com. A link will be sent out a few days before the meeting.
Advocates for Immigrants in Detention Northwest
We welcome and support people affected by immigration detention by connecting them to resources and the community.
You Make a Difference