Immigration detention separates migrants from their families. It isolates those who desperately need security and hope for the future. Breaking down this isolation is a core part of LIRS’s mission to welcome the stranger. LIRS has grants available for established visitation ministries as well as seed funds for groups just getting started. Learn more and start your application for LIRS’s Visitation Ministry Funding.
With the support of these visitation grants, hundreds of volunteers around the country walk alongside migrants in detention and offer compassion and encouragement. One such volunteer is Denise Walker of Augustana Lutheran Church in Washington DC, who writes about her detention visitation experiences on her blog, Ad astra per aspera. Here is her account of one memorable visit:
This past Saturday night, I drove with a group of 5 other volunteers to an immigrant detention center. The center is in a location off of an unassuming highway exit. At this exit there is a McDonald’s, an IHOP, and a T&A Travel Plaza. There is no public transportation that goes there. I didn’t see any law offices either.
We arrived at 6:30 p.m. in front of a one-story building. I parked the car and we left all of our belongings inside. I was allowed to carry my keys and my notebook containing the list of people we planned to visit. We walked up to the uninviting building. A lone sunflower, planted in front of the building, hung her heavy head. Curls of razor wire adorned the top of the fence that extended from the edge of the building. We went inside and entered a waiting lobby full of families: babies, children, moms, brothers. All of them appeared to be waiting to visit family members.
Please visit Denise’s blog to continue reading about her detention visitation experience.
Would a grant help your congregation or group with detention visitation ministry? To begin your application, visit LIRS’s Visitation Ministry Funding.