Migrant Services

About Immigration Detention

Every day, the United States government incarcerates approximately 34,000 men and women for civil violations of immigration law in 250 facilities across the country. This massive detention system comes at an enormous cost— a projected $1.755 billion for fiscal year 2016 (FY16 Department of Homeland Security “Budget in Brief”) — to taxpayers, immigrants, and communities throughout the country. Survivors of torture, human trafficking, and violent crimes are amongst those held while their immigration case is processed and the very real potential for deportation lingers indefinitely. Detention can be deeply re-traumatizing, and it separates families, inflicts unnecessary suffering, and exacerbates a human and economic crisis in this country.

LIRS believes detention is both an inhumane and fiscally irresponsible response to migration in the U.S. We believe the government can meet its humanitarian and enforcement obligations if and when it properly utilizes community-based alternatives to immigration detention (ATD’s).


Recent Programs and Projects

Community Support Network, 2012-2016:
LIRS, in partnership with the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, managed and funded a national network of social and legal service providers to examine the efficiency of community-based services as an alternative to immigration detention. This initiative has leveraged volunteers and community partnerships to offer a continuum of care for immigrants released from detention providing immediate support, stabilization, trauma rehabilitation, and eventually long term integration. Learn more here.

Detained Torture Survivor’s Legal Support Network, 2002-2015:
From 2002-2015, LIRS managed the Detained Torture Survivor Legal Support Network, comprised of 5 nonprofit legal providers who screened for survivors of torture within detention facilities and once identified linked them to critical legal services. The program was funded as part of the Survivors of Torture Program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

First Steps: An LIRS Guide for Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants Released from Detention:
Published in 2014, First Steps provides refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants released from detention with information and resources critical to safely integrating into the United States. First Steps helps people navigate complex legal and social systems by providing important information on legal rights, responsibilities, and eligibility for services and benefits such as healthcare and education, according to immigration status. There are two supplements to First Steps: one for Asylum Seekers available in English, Spanish, and Chinese; and one for Lawful Permanent Residents available in English and Spanish. The entire First Steps is available in English, Spanish, and Korean.

Migrant Services Reports