Detention Visitation

“I remained detained for 447 days... It seems to me that detention robs a part of us.” 

-Rene (Former Detainee), Locked in a Box


Immigration detention is the practice of detaining non-citizens (adults and families with children) in prison or prison-like settings while their immigration case is processed. They can be detained for weeks, months or sometimes years in one of over 200 detention centers nationwide. While US citizens are only detained if they are on trial for or have been convicted of a crime, immigrants are detained even if they are merely exercising the legally protected right to seek asylum.


A kind listener can help restore dignity and hope to a person enduring the long days of uncertainty and isolation in immigration detention. In collaboration with a national network of partners, LIRS is committed to providing hope, strength, and a voice to those in immigration detention. LIRS empowers congregations, community groups, and individual volunteers to launch and grow detention visitation programs through resource development, networking, and the distribution of small grants. 

There are many ways for you to get involved. However you choose to participate, we are thankful for your partnership in this important work!

Join a Local Visitation Group

This interactive map from Freedom For Immigrants shows detention centers as well as existing visitation groups. Expand it to full screen to view statistics on the centers and contact information on the groups.

Start a Visitation Group

"Bring the Sky: the LIRS Detention Visitation Guide" is a five-module series that will help you understand the issues, consider the call, and establish a visitation ministry. Click here to download your copy.


Be a Pen Pal to Someone in Detention

Immigration detention is a lonely experience. A kind word in the form of a letter can make a huge difference. Writing letters is an easy and meaningful way to be a compassionate presence to those in immigration detention – to remind them that they are not alone or forgotten. 

To learn more, please fill out our Volunteer Contact Form.

Send Holiday Cards to Those in Detention


Every autumn LIRS collects thousands of holiday cards as well as donations for gifts to send to individuals and families being held in immigration detention centers around the country. There's no better way to get into the holiday spirit than sharing the joy of the season! Find out more here.

Host a Film Screening About Detention

Invite a group to watch Locked In a Box: Immigration Detention, an award-winning short documentary about detained immigrants and their visitors. You can use the LIRS discussion guide to foster conversation afterward.

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