Community Support Network eNews – 2/14

Community Support Network eNews, February 2014 issue
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Dear Community Support partners and friends,

In the two years since we launched the Community Support network, we have strengthened seven network hubs to provide holistic services. In 2013, we entered into an MOU with ICE to facilitate direct referrals into communities in Austin, New Jersey and New York which expanded to Minneapolis and Chicago as of January 1 of this year. We are looking ahead, and are excited to share a few areas we plan to focus our work and support on in 2014:

  1. Strong emphasis on fundraising for the network. ATJ is pleased to report that fundraising for our shared Community Support work has been designated as one of LIRS’ overall organizational fundraising priorities. I am already working closely with our Grant Development Unit to promote our network to foundations, churches and corporations. LIRS itself made a deeper financial investment in our work at the end of last year that allowed us to expand our team and to award larger grants than we had previously anticipated. We are committed to growing our funding base further in 2014 and hope to talk to many of you about how to best do this collectively.
  2. Local and national convenings. Our national convening will be held this September in Tucson, Arizona. The national convening will gather organizations from LIRS’ various networks, including our own. One of the reasons for the selection of Tucson was the strong desire from those present at the August conference to visit the border region. In addition to the large convening, we plan to support the organization of local convening in your home cities, occurring in conjunction with our annual site visit. These will be an opportunity for partners to come together with volunteers and other stakeholders to address a topic of interest in your local community. We look forward to the opportunity to meet with you all in person.
  3. Housing and safe release. A network poll highlighted housing and safe release practices as areas where partners most desired capacity building and additional support. Anna and Julia will be taking the lead on pulling together housing resources and identifying ways for you to learn from each other on your housing efforts. Later in the year, Megan will be beginning some analysis of safe release practices within the network.
  4. Data and Evaluation. One of the goals that we share is to demonstrate impacts of our work in order to advocate for community based alternatives to detention. To that end, LIRS is working with several researchers to collect and analyze data, building on your use of our new database. We look forward to sharing our learning with all of you as the year progresses. Megan will be taking the lead on our evaluation work.

Please contact us if you have questions or ideas about these priorities. Thank you again for a great 2013, and we look forward to a productive year of strengthening our network and improving the quality of services to clients.

Warmest regards,


Building a House of Peace: An interview with Sarah Jackson

SarahJackson300In 2014, LIRS is excited to support the continued growth and expansion of visitation ministries across the country. This month we would like to spotlight and thank Sarah Jackson, the founder of Casa de Paz, for her tireless commitment to immigration detention visitation ministry in CO.

Located across the street from an immigration detention facility, Casa de Paz, or House of Peace, offers free lodging and meals to guests visiting loved ones detained in the facility. Additionally, they organize a visitation ministry, connecting volunteers with immigration detainees to build new friendships and offer hope. Reflecting on the benefits of visitation ministry, Sarah shared,

“The hearts and minds of the community members involved in our program have been transformed and softened, as well. We believe true change stems from forming relationships and journeying through life together. The visitation program does just that.”

We are thrilled to have you as a partner, and are so grateful for your continued dedication!

Q: What sparked your desire to found Casa de Paz?

Sarah: My desire to open Casa de Paz began after witnessing families being separated by our border. For the first time in my life, I was exposed to the reality that because of our immigration policies, some families were forced to be torn apart, sometimes for years, and sometimes forever.

I couldn’t go back to the perfect life I worked so hard to create after having my heart broken so hard. It was clear to me that I wanted to create a space where families could re-connect, and that’s when the idea to open Casa de Paz began.

Q: In a few sentences, can you please describe the mission of Casa de Paz? What services and programs do you offer?

Our mission is to bring families together – whether that’s for a short amount of time while they’re in immigration proceedings, or perhaps give them a chance to say goodbye to a loved one before they are deported.

We offer our small apartment which is located directly across the street from the immigrant detention center to families coming in from out of town. They are provided with transportation, a room, and meals, all at no charge.

It’s rare, but if someone is detained and then released, but are not from the area, they are welcome into our home as well. This is normally just for one or two nights, until they find their way home.

We also have a small visitation program to connect people being detained to new friends who are living in the community. This sometimes feels small, but only spending an hour with someone every few weeks can have a huge impact.

Many times the new friendship is the only thing to give someone that tiny bit of hope they were so desperate for.

Q: Can you please tell us about someone or something that influenced your decision to participate in visitation ministry?

Jesus clearly says to visit those in prison. I don’t do a great job of listening and following His words all the time, but for me, that is a pretty black and white commandment. There are people literally in my backyard who are in prison, and the man whom I have chosen to model my life after has told me to visit them. So… I go.

Q: Casa de Paz means House of Peace. What does that name mean to you?

Casa de Paz means in the midst of the most traumatic experience a family could go through, being torn apart, there is a small place they can retreat to, to find hope, friendship, prayers, and peace. We truly care about people who are adversely affected by our unjust laws, and this tiny one-bedroom apartment is a simple offering of what we hope the world can experience more of – peace.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any strategies for coping with compassion fatigue or burnout?

I really enjoy playing volleyball – hitting the ball hard is a huge stress reliever – haha! Now that I have a few consistent visitors going into the detention center regularly, my plan is to create a small leadership team who can help me recruit and train new people interested in joining us. This will be huge, because I know in order to be effective, and sustainable long-term, I can’t do it alone.

To learn more about Casa de Paz, please visit their website, like Casa de Paz on Facebook, or email Sarah at,


Warm Welcome

Angela Edman

LIRS is excited to welcome Angela Edman as a permanent member of the ATJ team. Angela has been working with ATJ for the past several months as Staff Attorney, and starting this year she will be leading much of ATJ’s work with the Detained Torture Survivors program. With a background in human rights and immigration law, Angela came to LIRS after most recently spending several years providing legal representation to asylum seekers in Hong Kong, where she further developed expertise in working with survivors of torture and sexual and gender-based violence, the vast majority of whom had been detained. Angela is excited to work with partners to identify and bring critical legal services to detained torture survivors.

Tim Warden-Hertz

The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project is excited to welcome Tim Warden-Hertz to their team. Tim will be working as an attorney in Tacoma, WA. Some of you will have the opportunity to meet Tim at the LIRS L3 convening this February. Welcome to the network Tim!


Valuable Resources

Pat Gunn, an LIRS community support and visitation partner in the Pacific Northwest, reflects on her journey to found and grow a visitation ministry. Check out CIVIC’s blog to learn more about her story.

The Refugee Project offers an interactive map, displaying the migration of refugees around the world each year since 1975. Click here to explore.

Katharina Obser, Senior Associate at Human Rights First, speaks out against the “bed quota”, and calls for immigration detention reform in her blog post, “How to Renew the Commitment to Immigration Detention Reform.

Upcoming Events

Monthly Network-wide Conference Call

February 6, 2:00-3:00pm EST
Please contact for call in information.

LIRS L3 Convening (Learning, Leveraging, Leading)

February 24-26, Baltimore, MD


Who is the Community Support Network?

CSNteamIn partnership with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) LIRS launched the Community Support Network in 2012, a national service model to examine the efficiency of community-based services as an alternative to immigration detention. This initiative inspires volunteers and funds non-profit service agencies to offer a continuum of care that facilitates immigrants’ release from detention, immediate support and stabilization services, torture and trauma rehabilitation, and eventually long term integration. In 2012, the Community Support Network served approximately 85 people post-release and brought together over 80 practitioners for a conference about alternatives to current enforcement practices.