An Unmet Need
At this time, there is only one detention center in the state of Indiana that is authorized by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain immigrants for more than 72 hours: the county jail in Brazil, IN, which is formally known as the Clay County Justice Center. Most of the immigrants who are arrested in Indiana are sent here first, where they have minimal contact with the outside world. Visitation programs such as ours that create a way for detained immigrants to communicate with the larger community have proven to be absolutely essential both for protecting the interests of immigrants in various states and for advocacy and reform.
Until recently, the Clay County jail has been treated by ICE as a temporary staging area where immigrants were often held for 2-4 weeks before being sent to long-term facilities in nearby states like Illinois. However, Illinois passed a law in 2021 that required all public and private jails to end contracts with ICE, which has resulted in many immigrants being sent back to Clay County. In fact, Clay County is in talks with ICE about tripling the number of immigrants they detain and becoming a more central immigration hub, a move that Indiana AID opposes.
Every week, we reach out to the new immigrants who arrive at the Clay County jail and offer to pair them with a conversation partner who seeks to be a listening ear and a source of support. At present, Clay County is not allowing any in-person visitation at this facility, so we do all of our visits through a virtual program called Securus that allows us to set up one-on-one video calls with people detained there for up to 20 minutes. If you are interested in visiting with an immigrant, we will put you in touch with a trainer, who will talk with you about the process and commitment that is required to do this. Most of the people whom we serve speak Spanish, but we do have some who speak English and even some who speak other languages. If you have any interest or questions about this, please contact us below.
Transportation and Translation
One of the greatest and most immediate needs that immigrants have when they are released from detention is transportation assistance. This could mean having someone pick them up in Brazil, IN and take them to whatever part of the state they were living in previously. It could mean helping them meet a local attorney or even driving them to Chicago for a court appointment. We cannot predict exactly when these needs will arise more than a week or so in advance, so we are compiling a list of people who are open to helping in this way whom we can contact if such a need arises. If you would be open to adding your name to the list, please let us know. You are welcome to offer parameters around the times when you would be available to help.
Similarly, immigrants often find themselves in situations where they need to communicate with an attorney, employer, landlord, or government official but don't speak English fluently enough to do so. If you are fluent in other languages (especially Spanish) and you would be willing to add your name to a call list for situations like this, we would appreciate it.
Community Integration Partnerships
When immigrants are released from detention, they often are in need of housing, work, health care, legal advice, etc. There are several organizations in Indiana that offer these services for little or no money, but it can be difficult for some immigrants to know where or how to begin working with them. If you would be interested in forming a partnership with immigrants who have been released from detention and helping them find their way through these complex institutions, please let us know.
Although Indiana AID was formed in 2019, we maintained a relatively small volunteer group until the end of 2021, when we began our virtual visitation program. Now, we are in a position where we need to grow our organization quickly, and we need help with website development, newsletter writing, database entry, money management, social media promotion, and other administrative tasks. If you would be willing to help us in this way, please let us know!
Let's Work Together
If you think you might be interested in helping us but have questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to us and start a conversation. You can do this by calling us at 317-721-4044 and leaving a voicemail (which may take us up to three days to answer or by emailing us at email@example.com