LOS ANGELES, CA, Sept. 13, 2018 — Freedom for Immigrants is officially launching “Sponsor Freedom,” a program encouraging people nationwide to pledge their support for community-based alternatives to detention as a way to demonstrate that as a country we can build effective and humane pathways away from our punitive immigration detention system.
“When a person fleeing violence arrives to the United States in search of refuge, our government immediately throws them into detention, where they languish indefinitely and are subjected to countless abuses,” said Christina Mansfield, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director for Freedom for Immigrants. “To make matters worse, private prison companies and local governments are profiting off their suffering. The mass incarceration of immigrants is not only unnecessary, it is also unconscionable. Immigrants deserve to be treated with dignity, and that’s why we created community-based alternative accompaniment programs.”
In order for a person eligible for parole or bond to be released from immigration detention, they must provide the address of either a family member or a sponsor. Many detained individuals have family within the country, but many recent asylum seekers have nowhere to go.
Since 2014, through alternative accompaniment programs, dozens of volunteers with Freedom for Immigrants (formerly CIVIC) have opened up their homes to those individuals who simply need a place to stay while they comply with their immigration cases.
The Los Angeles Times profiled two such hosts: Ann and Kent Moriarty. The couple is currently hosting Veronica Aguilar, an asylum seeker from El Salvador who was detained for over half a year in Orange County. Now, instead of being locked up behind bars, she is learning to take the BART around the Bay Area.
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For millions of people across the country, the Trump administration’s brutal zero-tolerance policy that separated thousands of families was a wake-up call, revealing the massive network of jails and prisons that for decades has quietly been devastating immigrant communities.
The “Sponsor Freedom” program was introduced in response to the outpour of support following the family separation crisis. Since then, as our map shows, nearly 800 people from Boston to the Bay Area and everywhere in between have signed up, pledging to become a host or a sponsor through donations.
“We hope that people are empowered to work toward building a future that responds to migration not with cages but with compassion,” said Mansfield.