Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Monthly Vigil in Florence: Thurs Oct 20

Carpool from Tucson leaves  at 5 pm. Ina and Oracle. In front of Bank of America. Look for a red Prius.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Upcoming PHX & Tucson orientations

You really can make a difference. And it’s not that hard. Write a letter. Send a card. Go listen to someone who is in immigration detention. It’s like prison there for them. It’s not supposed to be. But it is prison. And it is full of disregard of people’s humanity, dignity, and international human rights.

Learn more about our national immigration detention system, what it is like for the more than 3,000 people who are detained in Florence and Eloy, Arizona, why they are detained, and how you can write, visit, and offer hospitality to the men and women there.

Staff from the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project and members of the Restoration Project at Casa Mariposa will offer trainings in Phoenix and Tucson soon.

Attending the training is the first step to participating in the writing, visitation, and hospitality program that is facilitated by the Restoration Project and the Florence Project. We try to offer these about once every other month in both cities. Bring snacks to share as we learn together and build a strong network of support and solidarity with those inside and outside of immigration detention centers in Arizona.

Phoenix Orientation
Saturday, August 27
10 am – 12:30pm
Quaker Meeting House
1702 East Glendale Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85020
Call 480-291-2203 for questions about PHX training

Tucson Orientation
Saturday, September 17
10 am – 12:30 pm
Casa Mariposa
340 S. 3rd Ave., Tucson, AZ, 85701
520-269-6597 for questions about the Tucson orientation

Monday, August 15, 2011

Human Trafficking Workshop

Come join in this workshop, Saturday, August 20, 2011.

What is smuggling? What is human trafficking? How to recognize if someone is being trafficked and how to best help.

Led by ALERT: Arizona League to End Regional Trafficking.
10 am — 12:30 pm
St Andrew’s Episcopal Church Parish Hall
545 South 5th Avenue, Tucson

This training is open to all. And is free. 

Help spread the word on Facebook. Here's the event page.

Monday, July 11, 2011

ACLU releases detainee abuse doc: Tuesday in Tucson

Tucson Forum to Discuss Abuse of Detained Immigrants

TUCSON, Ariz. - The mistreatment of thousands of immigrants in Arizona detention centers will be discussed Tuesday evening at a community forum in Tucson. A two-year study by ACLU Arizona documents inhumane conditions, abuse and a lack of adequate legal protection for some 3,000 detained immigrants.

The July 12 forum starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Pima Community College downtown campus. Amethyst Room, Building CC, 1255 N. Stone Avenue, in Tucson.

Ten percent of the country's detained immigrant population is being held in Arizona. Many of the detainees have been held for months - or even years - while appealing their legal status.

ACLU Arizona staff attorney Victoria Lopez says some of the worst abuses were found at the Pinal County Jail, where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contracts for bed space.

"They noted verbal and mental abuse by guards. They noted a lack of ability for detainees to have contact visits with their family members. They noted detainees not having the opportunity to have outdoor recreation."

ICE officials say conditions at the Pinal County Jail meet or exceed federal detention standards. However, Lopez says, no one but ICE monitors conditions, the standards vary from facility to facility and they are not legally enforceable.

The ACLU report findings demonstrate the need for immediate reform of the immigration detention system, Lopez says. She suggests that a good first step would be for the federal government to terminate a costly contract that pays the Pinal County Jail an estimated $13 million a year to house immigrants.

"Detention costs are much, much higher than some alternatives to detention, which can cost as little as $12 dollars per day. At the Pinal County Jail, for example, the federal government contracts $59 dollars per day, per detainee."

Lopez adds there's a major misperception among the public about who is being held in Arizona's federal detention centers. She says they detainees are not necessarily "illegal" immigrants.

"Many of those being held are people who have legal permanent resident status and, in fact, may have an opportunity under the current U.S. immigration laws to fix their immigration status or remain legally in the United States."

The report is available for download at

Friday, July 8, 2011

Upcoming Orientations and Trainings

August 20, Tucson: Special Training on Human Trafficking.
Learn the difference between smuggling and trafficking. How to recognize it. And what to do.
Led by ALERT: Arizona League to End Regional Trafficking.
10 am — 12:30 pm
St Andrew’s Episcopal Church Parish Hall
545 South 5th Avenue, Tucson
This training is open to all.
Contact us with questions.

August 27, Phoenix orientation

Learn about the immigration detention system. Get involved in the Restoration Project network of solidarity and support. Be part of starting the Phoenix Greyhound hospitality network.
10 am — 12:30 pm. Contact us for location.

September 17, Tucson orientation

Learn about the immigration detention system and how you can get involved in the Restoration Project network of solidarity and support by writing, visiting men and women detained, hosting asylum seekers and others just out of detention in your home, and being present at the Tucson Greyhound station to greet men and women just released from the Eloy detention center.
10 am — 12:30 pm.
Casa Mariposa, 340 S. 3rd Ave., Tucson

All events are free. Bring snacks to share.

Photos from Dignity not Detention Vigil

More than 70 people from across Arizona gathered to call for an end to the ICE contract with Pinal County Jail. Monthly vigils will continue until action is taken. Next vigil: August 11.

This first gathering was a beautiful, organic, peaceful, grassroots beginning. Poetry, personal testimony by two men who had been detained, ways to get involved, Aztec dances, singing, were all part of the vigil.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Vigil to ask ICE to terminate contract with County Jail in Florence


For Immediate Release:
Thursday, July 07, 2011   

Alessandra Soler Meetze, ACLU of Arizona at 602-418-5499 (cell)/602-773-6006 (office)

Advocates Call for an End to Detention Contracts between
Pinal County Jail and ICE

A coalition of immigrants’ rights groups, civil rights organizations and community members from across the state will hold a vigil at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 7th at the Pinal County Jail (PCJ) in Florence to highlight abuses of immigrant detainees and call for an end to the detention contract between PCJ and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

According to a report recently released by the ACLU of Arizona, detainees at PCJ face conditions that jeopardize their safety and well-being including inadequate medical care, no contact visits with family, no outdoor recreation and verbal and mental abuse by jail personnel. Pinal County Jail is one of five detention centers contracted by ICE to detain 3,000 immigrant detainees on any given day in Eloy and Florence, Arizona. 

Advocates are calling on ICE to terminate its contract with Pinal County Jail, which according to news reports makes about $36,000 a night – or $13 million a year – off its contract with the federal government to house immigrants.

WHAT:                        Vigil outside of Pinal County Jail in support of immigrant detainees

WHEN:            6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 7, 2011 

WHERE:            In the parking lot of the Pinal County Superior Court (in the same plaza as the jail) at 971 N. Jason Lopez Circle in Florence, Arizona  

WHO:            The vigil is being organized by The Puente Movement, ACLU of Arizona, No More Deaths, The Restoration Project at Casa Mariposa, Corazón de Tucson, The Black Alliance for Just Immigration and other organizations and individuals

WHY:             To support all of the people inside immigration detention centers and to bring awareness about misguided immigration detention policies that have led to the dramatic increase in the number of detained immigrants who are subjected to inhumane conditions and injustices perpetuated by county contracts with ICE.   

Monday, June 13, 2011

Streamline steamrolls human dignity

 Vicki is a community member of Casa Mariposa in Tucson and a volunteer with the Restoration Project visiting, writing, and offering hospitality to detained immigrants. This article by her was published on the National Catholic Reporter blog. 

Tougher immigration enforcement ignores the humanitarian needs of migrants

Jun. 13, 2011
TUCSON, ARIZ. — Every day, the courtroom in the De Concini Federal Courthouse which hosts Operation Streamline is typically full of 70 men and women from various parts of Mexico and Central America. Processed in groups, they are divided up into groups of people who will receive the same sentence. Each group, listening to the proceedings through interpretation headphones, waits its turn to be called in front of the Magistrate. Each person is given a plea bargain that has been created in advance between prosecutors for the U.S. Government, and defense attorneys who have met with each defendant for a few minutes that morning.

Operation Streamline was created in Del Rio, Texas, in 2005 to place criminal penalties on illegal entry into the various jurisdictions along the border. These criminal charges were to act as a deterrent to people; the idea was that the threat of jail time would prevent people from attempting to enter the United States without authorization.

I'd been there before, and this was all I expected to see when I walked into the courtroom recently. But it was not all: I walked into the courtroom and was greeted by a friend, a young man named Jaime*, with whom I had been visiting over the course of several weeks in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. 

Jaime turned his head toward the door, expressed his surprise to see me, flashed a smile, and lifted his hands, shackled together and to his waist, to wave. I smiled and waved in return, with some worry mixed in, and found a seat.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Arizona Daily Star/ La Estrella article

Newspaper article about our greyhound station hospitality with men and women just released from Eloy detention center...

Sí tenemos una cara amable para indocumentados: los voluntarios

Una noche, hace muy poco, dos mujeres, una de China y la otra de México, entraron a la terminal de autobuses Greyhound del centro de Tucsón. Se veían perplejas y cansadas, y cada una llevaba una bolsa transparente de plástico y un sobre grande color amarillo, además de algunas pertenencias personales.
No conocían a nadie en la prácticamente vacía sala de espera. Ninguna hablaba inglés.
Pero al cabo de algunos minutos, Vicki Kline y Jean Boucher amablemente recibieron a las dos temerosas mujeres...

Read the full article in Spanish and English here...

On a recent night, two women, one from China and other from México, walked into the downtown Greyhound bus terminal. They looked bewildered and tired, and each carried a clear plastic bag and a large yellow envelope, plus a few personal belongings.

They knew no one in the near-empty waiting room. Neither spoke English.

But within minutes, Vicki Kline and Jean Boucher gently greeted the two scared women.

The twoare volunteers who welcome immigrants released from the Eloy immigration detention facility. Five nights a week a government vehicle arrives at the Greyhound station, housed in a temporary building squeezed between Interstate 10 and the federal courthouse, and deposits the freed immigrants. They are released with the belongings they had with them when they were detained.

They are given nothing else but their release papers in the envelope.

That’s why a few Tucson volunteers with the Restoration Project have stepped in to offer assistance and, more important, a friendly smile.

“They’re free,” said Boucher.

Some of the immigrants require no assistance or don’t want help, said Boucher and Kline. Most do, however.

“Some people don’t know how to use a phone or don’t speak English,” said Kline.

The Restoration Project is a small, faith-based group which offers respite and hospitality to immigrants like María García. She was released from detention and looking to return to her New York City home.

Full article

Things we need

Four people have stayed at Casa Mariposa in the last week and a half. And volunteers have met dozens of folks at the greyhound station.  Some one goes every week night.

We bring water and snacks, extra bags and sweatshirts. If you'd like to help out this effort, we could currently use:

bags, like cloth shopping bags, duffle, or back packs
longsleeve shirts or sweatshirts (the buses are cold)

Thanks to Jim M. who has brought us a lot of water, drinks, and snacks. And to Sean's mom who has donated a great deal of supplies and water as well. Thanks to all the amazing crew of volunteers too.  If you'd like to get involved, please contact us.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Women and immigration

A series of articles about women and detention and the impact of immigration policy on women and families...

Immigrants for Sale: CCA, AZ, and SB1070

Medical care being denied in detention

A woman chose to be deported from Arizona instead of continue to receive no medical care inside the detention center.  Read about her in this article by Meghan Rhoad of the Human Rights Watch:

We have heard terrible stories. Inside Florence Correctional Center, an entire unit requested that one of the men being held with them receive medical and mental health attention. The men being held with him were afraid of him and for him. Weeks went by. He eventually pulled one of his own teeth out. Only once he was covered in blood, was he taken away to receive care.

Medical care in detention is a matter of basic human decency. The United States should honor the dignity of every one.

121 Died in ICE Custody in 10.5 years

At least 121 people have died while in ICE Custody from October 2003 - April 29, 2011. Eleven men have died while in custody in Florence or Eloy detention centers.

A full list and report is available from ICE here:

One man who hung himself with a towel in the Pinal County Jail in Florence is listed on the report as death by "asphyxia." Several others seem to have died of heart attacks and stokes, which most certainly could have been brought on by stress.

Below are the names and details of the 11 men on the ICE list who have died while custody in Florence or Eloy, since October of 2003.


PEREZ‐AYALA, MANUEL M 12/24/1949 CUBA 3/14/2004 St. Thomas More Hospital, Canon City, CO (BOP) Florence No BOP Sudden Cardiac Death

LOPEZ‐LARA, JOSE M 10/20/1948 MEXICO 10/24/2004 Maricopa Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ Eloy Detention Ctr No IGSA Cerebral Infarct

LOPEZ RUELAS, ELIAS M 2/16/1950 MEXICO 1/4/2005 RTA Hospice in Casa Grande, AZ Eloy Detention Ctr No IGSA Cirrhosis of Unclear Etiology

NAND, MAYA (AKA NARID, MAYA) M 2/24/1948 FIJI 2/2/2005 Eloy ‐ St Mary's Hospital, Tuscon, AZ Eloy Detention Ctr No IGSA Cardiac Arrest

SALAZAR‐GOMEZ, JUAN M 6/24/1976 MEXICO 12/14/2005 Eloy Detention Ctr Eloy Detention Ctr No IGSA Asphyxia

LOPEZ‐GREGORIO, JOSE M 1/1/1974 GUATEMALA 9/29/2006 Eloy Detention Ctr Eloy Detention Ctr No IGSA Asphyxia

CHAVEZ‐TORRES, MARIO FRANCISCO M 11/10/1979 COLOMBIA 12/13/2006 Eloy Detention Ctr Eloy Detention Ctr No IGSA Ruptured Arteriovenous Malformation Midbrain

RODRIGUEZ‐TORRES, FELIX M 10/31/1970 ECUADOR 1/18/2007 Maricopa Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ Eloy Detention Ctr No IGSA Germ Cell Tumor with Metastasis

CANALES BACA, ROGELIO M 3/28/1972 HONDURAS 7/8/2008 Pike County Jail, Milford, PA Pinal County Jail Yes IGSA Asphyxia

DAWOOD, NAIL YOURSEF M 8/13/1966 IRAQ 7/21/2008 Eloy Detention Ctr Eloy Detention Ctr Yes IGSA Coronary Artery Vasculitis

OWUSU, EMMANUEL M 1/10/1946 GHANA 10/6/2008 Casa Grande Regional Hospital, AZ Eloy Detention Ctr Yes IGSA Complications of Acute Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA)

Trans and Gay immigrants in detention centers

Florence Service Processing Center is named in this civil rights complaint filed last month on behalf of gay and transgender immigrants held in detention.

Recently we met a lesbian who had been detained in Eloy. She said that a transgender woman there was held in isolation. They tried to put her in isolation but she protested and said they couldn't do that just because she was gay. She said the guards also were always suspicious and often harassed her when she was talking to other women at break times. And that they strictly enforced a no-touching rule inside the CCA-run Eloy detention center. None of the women being detained could touch each other in any way. No pats on the back, hugs, high-fives, or even sitting and talking closely.

Group alleges abuse because of sexual orientation

April 13, 2011
By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press
For 22 hours a day, Alejandro Cortez-Reyna, who is transgender, was confined to a 5-by-9-foot cell in immigration custody. Eventually the time out of the cell was reduced to about 45 minutes.

When Cortez-Reyna once asked why dayroom time for gay or transgender immigrants at the Theo Lacy facility in California was cut to less than two hours, a guard responded, "Because you need to learn not to be a faggot."

The guard's response is part of a civil rights complaint filed Wednesday on behalf of Cortez-Reyna and 12 others. It alleges systemic abuse and neglect of gay and transgender immigrants while in custody at facilities owned or contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Chicago-based Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center filed the action with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Inspector General's Office.

Read rest of article:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Welcome to Shellbyville showing in Tucson

A new documentary about how towns are working together to truly welcome refugees and immigrants into their community is showing in Tucson next week.

Watch Welcome to Shelbyville for free at several libraries in Tucson and nearby towns.
See more about the movie here:

The director of Welcoming America will be in Tucson next week too. And will be on a panel after the Wednesday showing. He and the director of the film will also meet with community folks who are already welcoming refugees and immigrants here in Tucson. Call Mary (a librarian) at 520-594-5394 if you'd like to know more about or attend that Tuesday afternoon gathering.

Just learned about Welcoming America. It seems to have a lot of the same spirit that we are trying to foster. Hospitality, community building, honoring the human dignity of all. They are the next step in the process. We offer short term hospitality to folks at times of transition. They foster connections in communities where people settle and try to find home.

Here's the scoop from the Pima County library website:
Monday, May 9, 2011
6:00pm - 8:00pm
Himmel Park Branch Library
Here's your chance to watch and discuss the film Welcome to Shelbyville by Kim Snyder at a Community Cinema screening event. Set in the heart of America's Bible Belt, Welcome to Shelbyville focuses on a small Southern town as they grapple with rapid demographic change and issues of immigrant integration. The film captures the complexity of the African American, Latino, white, and Somali subjects as their lives intertwine against the backdrop of a crumbling economy and the election of a new president. & showing again on:
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
6:00pm - 8:00pm
Joel D. Valdez Main Library
This one hour free screening will be followed by a half hour moderated discussion. This event is in partnership with Arizona Public Media and Community Cinema which features films from the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens.
For more information call 520-791-4010.

New Report out about Parents in Detention, Kids

Here's a situation. A parent is living in the United States. Their kids are U.S. citizens. They do not have legal status for themselves. They are arrested and held in immigration detention. Their kids are taken into state custody and put in the foster care system. The parent, unable to make calls, attend court, or visit their children has their rights as a parent severed.

This report details what is happening, not just here in Arizona, but all across the country. It gives concrete recommendations to the Department of Homeland Security, the child welfare system, the department of Justice and Congress. Let your U.S. Congress person know about the new report and ask them to support these recommendations through new legislation. Write Janet N. and let her know what is happening here and that you care about it.

Let's hope they are listening. And act. Our immigration system is broke. And it is hurting children and families. Let's stop locking up mamas and keeping them from their babies. Let's stop ripping fathers out of the lives of their children, with no path to reunify them.

Full report here:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Report on parents in detenion coming out May 5

Disappearing Parents:
Immigration Enforcement and the Child Welfare System
Thursday, May 5, 2011
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
James E. Rogers College of Law, Room 168
The presentation will include an overview of the report’s findings and recommendations, followed by remarks from panelists offering a range of perspectives on working with immigrant parents in the child welfare system. 
Sponsored by
The Bacon Immigration Law and Policy Program
James E. Rogers College of Law
The Southwest Institute for Research on Women
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Questions? Please contact the report's author, Nina Rabin, (520) 621-9206,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Realities of visiting in Florence

Why it would be good to have a hospitality house in Florence.

From the Reform Immigration for America blog

I was in Florence, Arizona two days ago at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center. I went to visit a friend of a friend from NY but they didn’t let me in. The info a corrections officer gave me over the phone was wrong even though I called on the same day I planned to visit to verify visiting hours & policy. So after driving 2 hours there I left without seeing her and they wouldn’t allow me to leave any money in her account either. I was sad.

I also met 2 girls that had been traveling all day. They came in to Phoenix from NYC and took a cab to Florence, AZ to the detention center. Only one of them was allowed in to see their family member. The other had to stay outside with their bags and cell phones — it was 105 degrees that day. They asked me if I knew a good immigration lawyer and of course I didn’t.

There is absolutely nothing close to the detention center. Nothing is within walking distance. So my heart went out to those girls who were going to have to walk two miles to the nearest motel.

Read the rest of the article here:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tucson Community Brunch

Saturday, May 14, we'll offer the first monthly potluck brunch for those involved in the network of solidarity.

If you are writing, visiting, hosting someone, have gone to the Greyhound station as people are released by ICE, or have been detained yourself, we invite you to come share with one another about what you are learning and experiencing.

We'll offer the brunches on a monthly basis in Tucson from here on. We'll offer a regular gathering in the Phoenix area soon. Anyone who has been involved is welcome to come no matter where you live.

Saturday, May 14, 2011
9:30 am to 11 am
Potluck Brunch for those involved in the network of solidarity
The Restoration Project at Casa Mariposa
340 S. 3rd Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85701

No need to RSVP. We just hope to see you there.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Greyhound Station Response Update

A couple of weeks ago, a few of us got together at the Restoration Project to discuss ICE's practice of releasing people at the Tucson greyhound station late at night. ICE releases people every weeknight and those of us who have gone to pick folks up have been concerned about this practice for various reasons.

We are getting together tomorrow to firm up these plans and to get this project on the ground and running.

If you would like to join in the Greyhound bus station project & other detention conversations, please join us:

Thursday, April 7
at the Restoration Project 
Casa Mariposa
340 S 3rd Ave 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bus station hospitality

This reflection is by our friend Vicki. Last week we hosted three men at The Restoration Project's Tucson hospitality house, Casa Mariposa. We met them at the greyhound station after they were released from the Eloy detention center on bond. Last month we hosted four women that Cindy from the Florence Project met at the station. In all cases, they could not catch a bus that day and would have been left locked outside the station after it closed around midnight. Staying at an all-night fast food restaurant or sleeping on the sidewalk outside the station would have been their only other options. If you'd like to be part of the community response to this situation, please join us Saturday, March 26, from 9 am to noon, 340 S. 3rd Ave., Tucson.

I didn’t know what to expect when we walked into the Greyhound station that evening around 8:30. Inside a television played low in the corner. A wall of vending machines and video games including one named “Target, Terror,” buzzed and blinked at us. A few people were dozing on benches under the low ceiling and fluorescent lights. None of the released detainees in sight. Two folks from the Restoration Project, who live at Casa Mariposa in Tucson, Arizona, and I set up camp to wait it out.

An hour or two later, a lone ICE agent raced into the station and headed for the bathroom. Slowly, a small line of people formed in front of the counter. The ICE agent returned, racing as quickly out of the bus station as he had entered, muttering, “Good night, gentlemen” as he blew through the door. We exchanged bemused looks with the released detainees at the agent’s behavior. They each hugged a clear plastic bag stamped with Homeland Security’s insignia. They were quiet and some seemed scared. As they waited for the Greyhound attendant to return from his break, we began getting a feel for the group’s needs. Our small contingent had gone that evening to look for a specific woman who was to be released and stay at Casa Mariposa. Her bus ticket was for the next morning. She was not in the van that evening[1], the others said, so we spoke with them instead.

The group consisted of a woman from Nicaragua, a young man from Ecuador, just 18 years old, and men from Haiti, Mexico, the Punjab region of India, and Eritrea. They were going to Chicago, New York, Minnesota and California. Some had been housed in ICE detention centers in Eloy for just a few weeks, others for a few years. Some were fighting asylum cases, others had been apprehended for other immigration reasons and were being released on bond to continue their immigration cases from outside the prison walls.

Sometimes people the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project have represented stay at Casa Mariposa between their release and when transportation to their final destination can be arranged. Sometimes it is just overnight. Sometimes for a few days. We’ve met people from Eritrea, fleeing forced inscription and the gender-based violence involved in forced military service. We’ve met people fleeing war in Somalia and political persecution in Ethiopia who have lived in multiple countries en route to getting to the U.S. to seek asylum. These are often torture survivors who are re-traumatized as they are forced to live in the detention center.

Other people are released from ICE custody directly to the bus station after posting bond. It is always at night. Sometimes family members or friends have pre-arranged a bus tickets or wired money that is waiting for them through Western Union. But sometimes people arrive with no clear plan. Sometimes the buses are full and no ticket can be purchased until the next day. Sometimes there are errors that delay a money transfer through Western Union.

The Tucson greyhound station closes after the final bus leaves around midnight, leaving some people outside to wait until it reopens the next morning. In these cases, people who have been in custody for prolonged periods of time have sometimes found themselves on the street or struggling to find an all-night restaurant where they can wait until morning. For some, this is their first experience of the United States outside of the immigration detention center.

The night we went to the bus station, I sat for a long time with the young man from Ecuador, who was able to purchase a ticket to Chicago. He talked quietly and seemed anxious. He asked how many times he would need to change buses before arriving in Chicago. He followed closely behind some of the other men who had taken him under their wings. I wrote down the specific instructions he’d need, and phrases in English he could use to ask for help if he needed it.

At the end of the night, two men, from India and Eritrea, were not able to secure bus tickets. We offered them a place to stay for the evening until they could arrange transportation in the morning. After we had been with them for a few hours, they agreed, and came with us to Casa Mariposa.

Hospitality is not simply the process of opening one’s home to someone in need of a place to go. That in itself is an often radical act. Hospitality is also the process of opening one’s heart and spirit to another, inviting both to share in a common human experience. Hospitality is a willingness to be transformed by the sharing of the other person’s experiences.

This bus station hospitality here in Tucson is happening organically. The next evening one of the community members walked to the station with one of the guests to catch his bus. It was the last one leaving that day. A man from Haiti, just released from the detention center, was there without a ticket. He stayed at Casa Mariposa that night. The next day, before he boarded his bus, the two of them played Bob Marley songs on guitars together in the living room.

Last month a Florence Project staff member was picking up a woman just released from the detention center, and called Casa Mariposa to ask if they had room for several more people to stay. That night four women in all, including an older woman, stayed and shared a meal at Casa Mariposa instead of an all night restaurant or on the street.

Members of the community have gone to the bus station several times over the last few weeks. Most nights everyone gets on a bus and on his or her way. But not always. And so the community and the Florence Project are taking steps to have small groups of people take turns going and waiting weeknights at the greyhound station, just to be present and see what people might need. It is happening in small steps, in each one a careful attention to the spirit of God as it appears in the experiences of people in need.

[1] Unfortunately, ICE dropped her off the following morning at 6 am. The station was closed until 7 am. She had no coat. It was about 45 degrees. She waited outside. They were actually trying to be helpful since her bus didn’t leave until that day.

Vicki Kline recently moved to Tucson from Baltimore, where she worked with unaccompanied minors through Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services. In Tucson, Vicki works with No More Deaths, and has greatly improved the beauty of Casa Mariposa through a home makeover of the breakfast nook. She believes the dream of the 90s might still be alive in Tucson.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tucson Orientation Saturday

Want to know what it's like inside an immigration detention center? Want to learn how you can make a real difference right now? You'll have a chance this Saturday in Tucson.

We'll hear from Hector who recently spent five months in Florence Correctional Center. Staff from the Florence Project will share about their work. They are legal-aid heros of immigrants and refugees detained in Eloy and Florenc.

You'll also have a chance to share about your experiences navigating the immigration detention system.

In addition we'll begin to formulate a community wide response to support recently released immigrants who are left in limbo on Tucson streets until they can catch a bus the next day.

So come share your experiences, learn from others and let's work together to restore human dignity to immigrants and refugees being detained in our state.

Snacks and lunch provided.

9 am to noon, with lunch afterward
The Restoration Project @ Casa Mariposa
340 S. 3rd Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85701

Thursday, March 17, 2011

International Commission 'troubled' and 'distrubed' by immigration detention centers in US

Today the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published its Report on Immigration in the United States: Detention and Due Process.

Arizona detention centers were among those investigated for the report. The Inter-American Commission uses words like "disturbed" and "troubled" to describe their findings.

In a press release about the report, the the Inter-American Commission said they are "troubled by the lack of a genuinely civil detention system with general conditions that are commensurate with human dignity and humane treatment."

The Inter-American Commission also said they are, "disturbed by the fact that the management and personal care of immigration detainees is frequently outsourced to private contractors, yet insufficient information is available concerning the mechanisms in place to supervise the contractors."

Three Arizona detention centers were among the six that were investigated as part of the report. The other three were in Texas. In Arizona, the Inter-American Commission visited: Southwest Key Unaccompanied Minor Shelter (Phoenix, Arizona); Florence Service Processing Center (Florence, Arizona); and the Pinal County Jail (Florence, Arizona). The for-profit detention centers run by CCA in Florence and Eloy were not included in the investigation.

The Inter-American Commission is an autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS). The Inter-American Commission has a mandate from the OAS and the American Convention on Human Rights to promote respect for human rights in the region. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

Let's hope the U.S. government doesn't try to sweep this under the rug of, "we've already made important changes in the last two years." From what we've heard and observed from those detained recently, the U.S. immigration detention system is not fully respectful of human rights.

We hope you'll join us in this international human rights work, right in our own backyard. Come learn how you can be part of honoring the human dignity of immigrants being detained. We are offering a training on Saturday, March 26, from 9 am to noon, at Casa Mariposa, the Tucson hospitality house of the Restoration Project, 340 S. 3rd Ave.

Read the New York Times article about the report.

The full report is here:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March Orientations in Phoenix, Tucson

Two chances to attend orientation sessions this month:

Saturday, March 5 
9 am to noon, followed by lunch
115 North 12th Ave
this is a community house

Saturday, March 26
9 am to noon, followed by lunch
340 S. 3rd Ave.
at The Restoration Project's community house, Casa Mariposa

You'll learn about what it is like inside detention centers, why people are there, and how important it is for folks to have someone who is writing and visiting. We'll also explore power and privilege, hear a presentation on survivors of torture, and take a moment to consider good self care.

A photo from the February orientation in Phoenix.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Learn more in Tempe and Tucson this weekend

Saturday, the visitation and hospitality project will host a workshop in Tempe at the Local to Global Justice Teach-in at Arizona State University. From 3 to 4:30 pm, Dorian from the Florence Project children's team will lead a presentation and discussion about immigration detention in Arizona, and how people can be part of the network of solidarity.  Learn more at:

And in Tucson, come visit us at the Peace Fair. Cindy from the Florence Projects social services team will host an informational booth at the fair. Come talk to her in person and learn more about how you can share friendship and solidarity with immigrants in detention centers near Tucson.

Tucson Peace Fair: 11am–5pm. Reid Park Bandshell, 1100 S. Randolph Way.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A chance to learn more

Monday, January 24 in Phoenix we are offering a chance to learn more about all this. Some staff from the Florence Project will speak about their work. Carol from Restoration Project will speak about what they are doing. And you'll have a chance to explore if you might want to be involved. 

7 to 9 pm 
115 North 12th Ave (it's a house, go on in)
Phoenix, AZ
Call 520-429-9792 if you need directions or more info. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Letters to a Detainee

Want to read first hand accounts of people's experience in immigration detention centers in Florence and Eloy, Arizona?

An excellent new publication has compiled interviews, art, and writing from men and women who have been detained in Arizona.

The publication is part of a larger project called: Letters to a Detainee: Immigration Detention in Arizona. The multimedia project has raised awareness about the effects of detention on individuals, families and communities. The project was coordinated by Laura Belous and Melissa Mundt. It was funded by the Arizona Humanities Council.

This publication is excellent.

You can download a pdf version from the project's website:

Or view it online here: