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Immigration Detention

International human rights laws require that immigration detention should be used only as a last resort, in exceptional cases and after all other options have been shown to be inadequate. The government must reduce reliance on locking up vulnerable migrants and expand the use of alternative programs that allow people to be with their families while they navigate the immigration process.



1. Sign the petition opposing HR 1932, a bill that would result in the prolonged or even permanent detention of vulnerable migrants without meaningful judicial review and tell Congress that you stand up for equality under the law for all people.

2. Urge your U.S. Representative to support House Resolution 6128, the Help Separated Families Act. The bill seeks to slow the growth of immigration-related family separation that resulted in the placement of over 5,100 children in the child welfare system. H.R. 6128 would mean immigration status alone would not disqualify a parent or relative from their right to guardianship over their child. Urge your federal representative to support this bill and strengthen family unity.

3. Sign the ACLU pledge to reject racial profiling and anti-immigrant laws.


1. Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)

MIRA is the largest organization in New England promoting the rights and integration of immigrants and refugees. They do so through policy analysis and advocacy, institutional organizing, training and leadership development, and strategic communications. 

2. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS)

For over 70 years, LIRS has led a ministry of welcome to America's most vulnerable newcomers.

3. Detention Watch Network (DWN)

DWN is a coalition that addresses the immigration detention crisis head on. They work to reform the U.S. detention and deportation system so that all who come to our shores receive fair and humane treatment.

- DWN campaign: Dignity Not Detention




Before becoming an advocate for immigration detainees, it is important to educate yourself about the issue:

1. Watch PBS Frontline's episode, "Lost in Detention," about President Obama's get-tough immigration policy.

2. Read the Alternatives to Detention Fact Sheet, provided by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. 

3. Read the Detention Watch Network's stories of immigration detainees whose lives and families have been torn apart because of U.S. immigration detention and deportation policies.

4. The American Civil Liberties Union provides basic facts and multiple resources about the current state of immigration detention in the United States.


Volunteer with the Migration, Detention, and Deportation Project, an action research initiative in the Center for Human Rights and International Justice. Contact Dr. Brinton Lykes at if you are interested.