Community Support Network eNews – January/February 2015

Community Support Network eNews, January/February 2015 issue
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Dear Community Support Partners and Friends,I hope 2015 has proven to be a successful and productive year thus far for all!

Our team looks forward to site visits with many of you in the coming months. We love hearing about your work on calls and through other communications, but it is always more meaningful to see firsthand the inspiring work you are all doing. As you will read in this month’s newsletter, Julia, Sarah, and myself visited two of our visitation partners in Georgia, El Refugio Ministry and Lutheran Services of Georgia. In Georgia we had the chance to actually participate in visitation ministry, proving to be a very moving experience for all involved.

This month we share initial data collected from all of you through ATJNet that provides a clearer picture of who is being served through our network.  We truly appreciate your patience as we all continue to learn how to best utilize this resource, and are also excited by its potential to support our collective fight for reform of the immigration detention system.

Lastly, please join us in welcoming two new staff members to Access to Justice! Vicki Kline joined us on February 18 as the temporary Manager for Family Placement Alternatives, the new case management program for family units released from immigration detention.  And, on March 16, we will be further joined by Perth Rosen who will serve as the new Assistant Director for Access to Justice.

As always, please send any success stories, best practices, staff transitions, or upcoming events to We would be honored to feature your stories in this newsletter!

Warm regards,
Liz Sweet

ATJ Network Successes

ATJSuccess_300There have recently been some great accomplishments in the Access to Justice Network! Please read about a few of them here:

Minnesota visitation partner, Conversations With Friends, has officially become an independent Minnesota non-profit corporation! This new status has allowed CWF to expand its services to detained immigrants and their families. With its primary goal continuing to be supporting detained immigrants through visits and compassionate conversations, expanded services include letter writing, small grants to commissary and phone accounts, and coordinating visits with attorneys.

Conversations with Friends led its first visitation on March 27, 2011 at the Ramsey County Jail, and has now grown to 27 active visitors and 12 trained visitors prepared to begin at other facilities when programs are approved. An interfaith and no faith organization, CWF is also reaching out to various faith communities to serve as Prayer Partners for detained migrants who desire this type of companionship. To learn more, read Conversations With Friends’ first official newsletter (link to PDF I attached to this email), or contact Reverend John Gutterman at

Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants in Chicago has expanded its visitation network to another detention center! They held their first visitation session at the Kenosha County Detention Center, which is just north of the Wisconsin/Illinois border, this month. Recognizing the added value of ICDI’s visitation ministry at the Illinois facilities, regional ICE leadership openly invited ICDI to expand their visitation program to the Kenosha Center. Well done, ICDI!

Who does the Community Support Network Serve?: CS Client Statistic

As mentioned in Liz’s introduction, we have pulled client reports from ATJNet database and are excited to present the types of information the database can help demonstrate. Below is a small sampling of demographic data drawn from a report on the 2014 calendar year. Future Community Support Client Reports will be able to include regional and aggregated information on compliance, housing status, employment status, and rate of representation among others. Access to Justice staff continue to work to make the database more user friendly for our partners in order to improve reporting accuracy and our advocacy effectiveness in the future.

ATJNet currently reports that in 2014, the network served 102 continuing clients and 71 newly enrolled clients as part of the Community Support program. Below you will find the nationalities and age breakdown of these 173 clients. Actual numbers are under-reported at the present time by approximately 30 additional clients not yet added to the database.


Other Client-identified Countries of Origin include:
Asia:   Afghanistan; Bangladesh; Burma (Myanmar); China; India; Laos; Nepal; Pakistan; Philippines; Iraq; Vietnam; Yemen

Africa: Cameroon; Democratic Republic of Congo; Eritrea; Kenya; Liberia; Rwanda; Somalia; Sierra Leone; Sudan; Uganda; Ghana; Egypt; Togo

Latin America and Caribbean:Dominican Republic; Colombia; Jamaica; Nicaragua; Costa Rica; Peru; Ecuador; Trinidad and Tobago; Brazil; Cuba

Oceania and Pacific: Federated States of Micronesia; New Zealand; Togo

Europe: Czechoslovakia; Russia

North America: Canada

Access to Justice Visits Georgia


Melanie Johnson, Lutheran Services of Georgia, is interviewed for the visitation video.

At the end of January, three Access to Justice staff members Liz, Julia, and Sarah travelled to Georgia to connect with visitation partners El Refugio and Lutheran Services of Georgia (LSG), and to film for ATJ’s forthcoming visitation video. Upon release, this video will be used as an outreach tool to better educate the public on the realities of immigration detention, and inspire their involvement in visitation ministry.

Julia and Sarah were able to participate in visitation at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. This experience proved to be transformative to both; read the blog post Julia wrote for the LIRS website to learn more about her experience.

A huge thanks to LSG and El Refugio for being such gracious hosts, and for their tireless commitment to individuals isolated in the Stewart Detention Facility.



Valuable Resources

Upcoming Events

Network Conversations: Case Management
Wednesday, March 4th, 2:00-3:00pm EST | Call-in: 1-877-885-3221 / Passcode: 5601844

Conquering Compassion Fatigue Debrief Call
Monday, March 9th, 8:00-9:00pm EDT | Theme: Setting Appropriate Boundaries

First Steps Training (Part 1)
Thursday, March 12th, 2:00-3:30pm EDT | Register HERE or email

Webinar: Visitation Ministry 101
Thursday, March 12th, 8:00-9:00pm EST | Register HERE or email

First Steps Training (Part 2)
Wednesday, March 18th, 2:00-3:30pm EDT | Register HERE or email

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.