Why Visit?!

Posted: July 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

A Visitor shares her story visiting:

“I initially pen paled with detainees but the obvious message in all of the letter was loneliness, isolation and fear of the future.  It was clear that letters, while a vital means of communication, could not replace human contact.  

Due to the rural location I had at least a good three hour drive to Adelanto, but I decided I would visit – once.  Another member of the detainee friends project joined me and we made the drive to visit our pen pals.
 
Afterwards, I knew it would not be the last visit.
 
The gratitude of that first person visited was overwhelming.  The story told by him concerning his family, job friends, community – all now lost due to an ICE sweep caught me in my guts.  A very good man now isolated from all he has known by my country and he repeatedly thanked me for visiting: for providing a ear to hear his story and to join him, for one hour, in his heart.  I was not in any way prepared for his and my waves of emotion – and my friend had a similar reaction with her pen pal.  Thanks God she was with me cause our trip home was all about “Oh my God what have we done to these people”.  
 
Bearing witness was really, really hard – hearing their stories and feeling powerless.  But in fact our visits made all the difference to the men – someone cared – was now the message in his letters.  
 
Visiting  men and women in the centers keeps their spirits alive as they know that somebody cares – and that is so worth the three hour drive.”
 
                   ~ Each Visit makes a Difference! Thank you to all our visitors who take the time to make a difference in someone’s life!
 
11/19: JUST RELEASED!
The Detention Watch Network’s Expose and Close: One Year Later 
The Adelanto facility is HIGHLIGHTED MANY TIMES during the report!  

“Detained immigrants with mental disabilities are often ignored or subject to abuse. At Adelanto (CA) straitjackets and solitary confinement were used to punish and deter immigrants from reporting mental health issues.”  -Part of the DWN report

 
Join the Vigil outside the facility today at 6pm (10400 Rancho Rd). Check out the Facebook Event Page for more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1410316529204369/
 
More information about actions taking place soon! 
As always, THANK YOU for your support! 

NEW NUMBER

Posted: September 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

Friends of Adelanto Detainees now has a new phone number!

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(760) 813-2513

 

Please call us & leave a message:

  • If you are interested in becoming a visitor
  • If you have a family member or loved one at Adelanto
  • If you would like more information on immigration detention

Please Sign & Share Our Petition to STOP the Expansion of Adelanto.  We don’t need any more beds added to our already 1,300 bed immigration detention center!

http://www.change.org/petitions/immigration-customs-enforcement-end-adelanto-s-expansion

 

To:
Mr. Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, Deputy Assistant Director Custody Programs and Community Outreach with ICE
Mr. Robert Naranjo, Assistant Field Office Director, Los Angeles Field Office with ICE
Mr. Wesley Lee, Assistant Field Office Director, Adelanto Facility with ICE
In light of everything that has happened at Adelanto: ICE’s attempt to shut the community-led visitation program out of the center, its ability to “Blacklist” community members, and additional issues at the Adelanto facility, including the death of Mr. Dominguez (3-4-12) and the continual rotation of ICE leadership (just to name a few), there is great cause to be concerned about the continued expansion of the facility.

Funding should be prioritized around the humane treatment of detainees and immigration reform in general, and not prolonging the isolation of more people at the Adelanto facility.

STOP THE EXPANSION OF ADELANTO!

Sincerely,

YOU

Huffington Post Article 

By Sarah Shourd; Published 8/15/2013

Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) bars detained immigrants from meeting with volunteer visitors, part of a crackdown on visitation in immigration detention facilities across Southern California.

Graphic Courtesy of Mario Cabriales

Victoria Mena, coordinator of the Friends of Adelanto Detainees visitation program, arrived on Friday, July 26th, at the Adelanto Detention Center in the Mojave Desert. For weeks she’d been visiting and checking in on Mr. S*, an immigrant father of two U.S. citizens, on days when his family was unable to make the trip to the desert. Without an explanation, ICE informed Mena that day that her name was on a no access list, and that she was forbidden to visit anyone at the facility.

“The purpose of the Friends of Adelanto Detainees program is to end the isolation that the men at this immigration detention facility are going through. The guys at this center are far away from their family and friends, and have no real connection to the outside world. Some are in really dark places, and it means a lot to have someone to talk to, to share an hour with. We saw the impact it had on the faces of those we visited with,” Mena said.

Mena’s visitation program is part of a national visitation movement, and her program is similar to the 27 other immigration detention visitation programs in 14 states. The movement to end isolation has grown from just a handful of visitor volunteers with four programs in 2009 to over 700 volunteers across the country today. This rapid growth has been in large part due to the support of a national organization, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC).

Recognizing the visitation movement’s growing power, ICE began to crack down on three Southern California visitation programs, Friends of Adelanto Detainees and two Orange County programs. CIVIC’s co-executive director, Christina Fialho, recently wrote a blog post on the Huffington Post criticizing the lack of leadership and independent oversight at ICE. Less than 48-hours after the Huffington Post published Fialho’s blog, ICE suspended the three visitation programs operating at the Adelanto Detention Center, the James Musick Facility, and the Santa Ana City Jail.

“There’s no question that the visitation programs would still be operating today had CIVIC publicly praised ICE, rather than criticized ICE’s treatment of detainees,” said Michael Kaufman, staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California who submitted a letter to ICE last week in support of CIVIC. “The suspensions raise grave First Amendment concerns, and give the clear appearance that ICE is trying to silence its critics and shield the public’s awareness of detention conditions.”

“Friends of Adelanto Detainees and visitor volunteers across the country aren’t asking for much,” said Fialho. “We’re simply asking for the right to visit. At a time in our nation’s history where there seems to be a near-total lack of transparent and accountable governance when it comes to civilian surveillance, it is crucial that civilians continue to have the ability to visit our friends and family in immigration detention to ensure proper treatment behind locked doors.”

Sarah Shourd is an author and Contributing Editor at Solitary Watch currently based in Oakland, California. She is also an Ambassador for CIVIC and spent 410 days in solitary confinement while held as a political hostage by the Iranian Government in 2009-2010.

Note: *Mr. S’s name has been withheld for his safety and those of his supporters. To support the efforts to get Friends of Adelanto Detainees’ members names removed from ICE’s no access list and to call for an end to the expansion of immigration detention, please sign the Friends of Adelanto Detainees’ petition!

Update From the 8/6 Rally

Posted: August 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

group shot

THANK YOU to everyone that came out to the Friends of Adelanto rally. We had so much support (from 60-70 ppl) from all over Southern California, which really shows the beauty in this work! We had the opportunity to get some cars and trucks honking for us,  which was amazing for creating awareness. A special thank you to those who spoke, and shared some very personal stories, it was very moving and motivating! Our next steps are coming together, and we appreciate everyone’s support!

Please check out all the great news coverage of the event in our “In the News” page!

Rally Flyer

Image  —  Posted: July 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

Program Suspension!

Posted: July 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

pic men in detention

Dearest friends,

We have gotten horrible news about the Friends of Adelanto Detainees program. I received a short, abrupt email from the AFOD (ICE) Wednesday afternoon, saying that our program is suspended until further notice. We cannot continue to see detainees. They are not taking questions, or giving reasoning.  Attempts to try to visit were unsuccessful, and we were threatened with calls to law enforcement for asking for a written statement as to why we were banned. We are all devastated by the suspension, and angry about ICE’s cowardice and lack of communication!

After talking with some others, we found out our sister programs in Orange County have also been cancelled. The little bit that has been gathered is that ICE is scared, and didn’t like the recent media attention visitation programs have been getting (including this Huffington Post article: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3544687).

Some of us have been meeting, emailing, talking and strategizing the last few days trying to develop a plan to move forward and re-gain access to the facility. It will be a public campaign to pressure ICE on all sides, but it can only be effective if we are all a part of it. We are preparing a letter to ICE on behalf of the Adelanto and Orange County Programs, asking for reinstatement, and a few more demands (for our inconvenience) to build a better program for everyone.  We will be creating heavy media pressure, including circulating a petition, phone banking, an international op-ed on visitation, and a public family reunification (we are helping a detainee see his brother for the first time in months since his confinement).

While we hope that ICE caves under the pressure, we know how they operate and are fully expecting to escalate with a vigil/rally at the center on Tuesday (8/6) at 2pm.  We will need to turn out as many people as possible to be effective! So please, please, please plan on bringing a carload with you!

We will continue to update you all as things unravel, and will be calling on all of you for support in the coming days. Please consider helping end the isolation of detainees through our new Pen Pal Program as well! If you can send a few letters, our friends would surely appreciate it!

THANK YOU!

Friends of Adelanto Detainees have come together, comprised of concerned individuals, faith partners and community groups in numerous areas from all over Southern California, to commit time and other resources to coordinate and supervise a humanitarian-based visitation program. We offer a consistent community connection for men in ICE custody at the GEO facility in Adelanto, CA.

Friends of Adelanto Detainees: Ending Immigrant Isolation

July 15th, Marks the Official Start to the Community-Led  

Visitation Program

Adelanto (CA)-  As one of the West Coast’s largest immigrant detention centers, the for-profit, GEO facility in Adelanto, CA houses approximately 1,300 men based solely on the fact that they are immigrants. While most people wrongly assume that detainees at the facility are all undocumented, or criminals, the reality is that there are also legal permanent residents, green card holders, veterans, asylum seekers, and those that would qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA- a presidential announcement that granted temporary relief to qualifying youth), and other forms of relief all being held at Adelanto.

“The people confined at Adelanto are members of our communities. Family, friends, loved ones who have become victims of our broken immigration system that is now driven by profit motives.” says Victoria Mena, a member of Friends, and resident of Adelanto. “The fact that this is happening in our backyard is appalling. Most people I talk to don’t even know this place is here. After meeting with these guys on the inside, it’s clear that this is not a political issue, it’s a humanitarian issue. People shouldn’t be subjected to detention based on where they were born. We need to come together and do what we can to end the suffering of these men.”

Yesterday’s group of visitors came from as far away as Los Angeles, and included faith groups, grassroots organizations and concerned individuals. Visitors shared an hour with their new Friends, hearing about their stories, and restoring some hope that they are not forgotten in the cold brick walls of Adelanto. Although it was only only a short time, the visits seemed to have a positive impact on the men inside.

“The gentlemen I met with were thankful to see and talk to someone from outside the center. They hadn’t seen anyone since they had been brought to Adelanto,” explains Shena Gutierrez, a Friends visitor. “One of the men had a particularly heartbreaking story. With a thick accent, he explained how his family and village had recently been massacred back home, and how he had ended up in Adelanto claiming political asylum. I was shocked and didn’t know what to say. Thankfully, me just being there to hear him meant so much to him. We are Friends now. I’m going to come back and see him next week.”

Hundreds of miles away from Los Angeles (where the nearest Immigration Court is located) and housed in an extremely rural desert setting, Adelanto does not make it easy for detainees to get visits. Knowing the barriers that friends and families face trying to visit their loved ones, Friends of Adelanto Detainees hopes to not just end the isolation of the people inside the facility, but also to be there for their families on the outside. Families and friends who know people inside Adelanto are encouraged to contact the group for additional support.

“We want to be able to help everyone through the process. I know what it’s like to be in detention and it’s something that no one should have to go through. The feelings of isolation and uncertainty are certainly the worst. These Detention Centers are designed to break you down. That’s why I am so passionate about this program because no one should have to endure that horrible isolation” Luis Nolasco, Organizer with the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition, and detention reform coordinator with the Justice for Immigrants Coalition who spent time in immigration detention in Georgia.

Working with groups like CIVIC (Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement), the Friends of Adelanto Detainees has come a long way in a very short time. The visitation program has been 7-months in the making, when the average startup time for similar programs being 2-3 years. “We have had an amazing network of people and groups here to support our start up” Says Mena, “We really have people from all over southern California interested. It seems that once people find out about the realities of the detention system, they want to get involved. It really has become a community effort, and it’s a beautiful thing.”

Friends of Adelanto Detainees is dedicated to ending the isolation of the detainees through visitation and friendship. For more information on becoming a visitor, fill out this FORM or email: FriendsOfAdelantoDetainees@gmail.com to see about scheduling a visit in your area.

Image  —  Posted: February 17, 2013 in Uncategorized