By Nell Hahn
Our goal is the abolition of immigrant detention and we have ongoing projects to that end, but much of our work in the shorter term involves assistance to individual detainees.
From April to November, 2020, we helped 47 people released from detention get to their sponsors or family members in the United States, by picking them up at the detention center, providing a place to stay overnight, giving them toiletries, supplies, and Spanish/English dictionaries (if they speak Spanish), and sometimes phones, and/or transporting them to the bus station. We have assisted many of these to obtain free plane tickets through a wonderful organization called Miles 4 Migrants.
We are contacted to pick people up by family members, organizations who pay bond, sponsors, lawyers, and even ICE deportation officers. Our pickups are usually from ICE detention centers in Basile and Pine Prairie, but we have also gone to Jena and have relayed people from North Louisiana centers to airports and bus stations in South Louisiana.
The people we help are asylum seekers who have been either granted asylum or released on parole or bond to continue their asylum cases while living in the community. In 2020 we worked with people from Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Central America, Cuba, Haiti, Cameroon, China, Bangladesh, and Nepal.