CIVIC (Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement) and the Jesuit Refugee Service have teamed up to produce a series of videos to train volunteers for immigrant detention visitation programs. Our own Rocio Villalobos, who coordinates the Austin-based Hutto Visitation Program along with Grassroots Leadership, is featured in their video on recruitment. The full press release from CIVIC is below, but first some words of wisdom from Rocio:
May 21, 2013
For Immediate Release
CIVIC & Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
Training volunteers for immigration detention visitation programs
(Washington, D.C) May 21, 2013 — Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) — the national immigration detention visitation network — believes that ending the isolation of people in immigration detention starts with being a good listener. CIVIC teamed up with Jesuit Refugee Service/USA (JRS/USA), a longstanding partner of the U.S. visitation movement, to create two training videos: one on how to be a good listener and the other on how to recruit volunteers to the immigration detention visitation movement.
“For decades, there has been widespread and genuine ignorance of the U.S. government’s practice of detaining asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking, and other immigrants with longstanding community ties,” said Christina Fialho, co-executive director of CIVIC. “But if each visitor volunteer could recruit just one more person to the movement, our immigration detention facilities would no longer be invisible to the community.”
The videos draw on the experience of three detention visitation groups: Conversations with Friends, Friends of Orange County Detainees, and the Hutto Visitation Program. The video on listening skills explains for visitor volunteers the qualities of a good listener and offers practical tips for listening and visiting people in detention. The volunteer recruitment and screening video reviews how visitation groups have recruited their volunteers through word of mouth, networking, social media and Spanish language media. Then, it discusses how different groups use their orientations, applications, background checks, and other methods to vet their volunteers.
“Accompaniment is the defining element of JRS/USA’s mission,” said Sean Kelly of JRS/USA. “The accompaniment provided by CIVIC’s network of visitation groups offers people in detention a sign of hope during a very challenging, uncertain, and stressful time.”