Issue 4: "The United States is a Promised Land"

Welcome to this week’s edition of IMM Print Weekly, a newsletter that showcases the stories of detained immigrants and their allies.

We seek to shine a light on how immigrant prisons and jails impact human beings and communities, celebrate the work of those advocating for detention abolition, and provide resources on how to get involved.

In this week’s issue read one immigrant’s story of escape, family, and faith and how immigration detention in and of itself functions as a form of psychological torture.

Since our last issue, Freedom for Immigrants has launched our Giving Tuesday campaign, with an ambitious goal to raise $50,000 to bond up to 30 people out of detention. If any of the stories we’ve published in IMM Print have moved you, please consider donating here.

How did we get here?

As a nation made beautiful by immigrants, America is bursting with stories from all over the world, but are we listening to each other? “How Did We Get Here?” is a portrait photography series that addresses this very question. Each image in the series celebrates the heritage and unique story of an individual who has found a home in the United States. By engaging in the practice of listening, photographer Jalynn Baker hopes that viewers will open their hearts and minds to love their neighbors more fully.

This is the story of Benito, who fled El Salvador when guerrilla warfare reached his doorstep. First escaping to Costa Rica then eventually to the United States, Benito left behind his home but found love, family, and a new purpose.

“I'm just trying to go and walk in the streets and meet people and talk with people (mostly men) and try to tell them all the sacrifices you do to come to this ‘Promised Land’ – because the United States is a promised land for so many, so I'm trying to tell them, don't waste your life doing wrong things. If you're here in the States, take that chance and do some good."

Read or listen to Benito’s story here.

Beyond Conditions: Immigration Detention is Psychological Torture

Last week, Freedom for Immigrants published its report on the mental health of detained immigrants. While immigration detention may not be traditionally understood to be a form of torture, the emotional and physical abuse that occurs inside detention centers produces a system that is psychologically torturous.

Freedom for Immigrants’ policy director Sarah Gardiner and national hotline director and policy monitor Cynthia Galaz penned an op-ed in IMM Print outlining how talking about poor conditions isn’t enough. Because immigration detention functions as torture, the entire system must be abolished.

“The isolation, systemic denial of possibility of release, and constant fear of deportation creates - by design - an atmosphere of uncertainty and hopelessness that understandably results in widespread anxiety, depression, and insomnia. It should not be a surprise that the result is a mental health crisis.”

Read the rest of their op-ed here.

Get involved

  • If you are in the LA County area, Broadway legends including Adam Pascal (RENT) and Shoshana Bean (Waitress, Wicked) will host a night of singing and storytelling on November 8 at the Sayers Club to raise money for Freedom for Immigrants.

    Tickets and information available here.

  • Freedom for Immigrants is elated to join the #GivingTuesday campaign this season. We have an ambitious goal to raise $50,000 for our National Bond Fund to bond out up to 30 people who are currently locked in immigration detention and connect them to the support they deserve on the outside. Make a tax-deductible donation here.

To share your story, reach out to Cindy Knoebel at cknoebel@freedomforimmigrants.org or Rebekah Entralgo at rentralgo@freedomforimmigrants.org.