Launch a Visitation Ministry

Visitation Ministry Funding Opportunities! LIRS will award grants to established visitation ministries and seed funding to new ministries to help strengthen outreach to individuals isolated in or recently released from immigration detention. Learn more here.

Are you outraged by the United States’ detention first policies? Is there an ICE detention facility located in your community? Join the movement of over 30 congregations and communities nation-wide, and respond with compassionate action through launching a visitation ministry.

We recognize that starting an immigration detention visitation ministry can be a daunting task. The walls, bars and fences keeping migrants in, also physically and psychologically keep visitors out. But don’t let the red tape and razor wire deter you, as LIRS is committed to walking alongside you each step of the way. Bring the Sky the LIRS detention visitation guide will help you:

Consider the call;
Understand the issues; and
Establish a detention visitation ministry

Why Visit? A Theology of Detention Visitation Ministry – Explore what the Bible has to say about ministry with the oppressed, standing against injustice, welcoming the stranger, and visiting those in prison. We are called to be like Jesus, who is God with us, by being a compassionate presence to others. And we are called to minister to Jesus as we see God’s image in the people who are oppressed.
Realities: The Impact of the U.S. Immigration Detention System – The U.S. government uses detention as its primary means of immigration enforcement, indiscriminately detaining asylum seekers, torture survivors, undocumented immigrants, trafficking victims, long-term residents, families and parents of children who are U.S. citizens. Non-citizens and their families feel the greatest impact of this practice. Communities suffer, too, and taxpayers foot the enormous bill.
Ministry Basics: Establishing a Visitation Program for Detained Migrants – Make a path through the red tape and past the razor wire to the imprisoned people who need support and encouragement. Learn how to get information about your local detention center, organize a ministry leadership team, develop administrative and information management tools, recruit and train volunteers, and identify migrants who need and want visits.
Being a Visitor: Practical Guidance on Visiting Detained Migrants – Be encouraged in your desire to visit migrants in detention. Explore your role as a compassionate presence, and avoid common missteps that may proceed from the best of intentions. Understand the need for confidentiality and how to protect detainees’ privacy. Learn how to navigate challenging situations and maintain appropriate boundaries.
Steps Beyond: Education, Advocacy & Community Care – Explore more ways to minister to detained and recently released migrants. If visitation isn’t the right ministry for you, or if you want to provide even more support, there are many ways to serve. Work to change the laws and policies that oppress newcomers. Create community care systems that meet practical needs such as housing. Study the issues more deeply through additional educational resources.

Special thanks to our generous funding partners for making visitation ministry possible:

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
Presbyterian Church USA
Wheat Ridge Ministries

Visitation Ministry Resources

LIRS Access Toolkit: Learn about the new access procedures for ICE detention facilities
New Ministry Resource Package: Sign up to receive webinars, promotional materials, volunteer training materials, and more.