VIDA: A Source of Hope for Immigrants in Detention

By Kelly McCloskey-Romero

At VIDA: Volunteers for Immigrants in Detention – Albuquerque (formerly Civic ABQ), we seek to ease the isolation of immigrants in detention. We are concerned about the over 50,000 men, women, and children in immigrant detention centers at any given time (Source: freedomforimmigrants.org, VIDA’s national partner).

There are two such centers near Albuquerque: Cibola County Correctional Center (in Milan, NM, near Grants) and Torrance County Detention Facility (in Estancia, NM, east of Albuquerque). These detention facilities house immigrants from all over the world, primarily Latin America, Africa, and Asia, as they seek asylum and/or a new life in the United States.

Since 2018, VIDA has reached out to those at Cibola and Torrance detention centers. Prior to the pandemic, we visited each facility twice a month to establish a human connection with the people living there. Since March 2020, we have bolstered our letter-writing program so that we can still communicate with those in detention, especially as they are dealing with increased stress and fear due to COVID-19. We are also collaborating with Casa de Paz, a wonderful organization in Aurora, Colorado, that provides support to detained immigrants and their families. By sharing our lists of those in detention, we reach out to over 70 people in New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, and wherever we learn that they’ve been transferred from one location to another.

Writing to an immigrant in detention means showing them that they are not alone, that there are Americans who recognize their humanity. A visit or a letter can fortify the human spirit for both detainee and letter-writer. Our friends in detention express intense gratitude in their letters to us. They tell us that it makes a huge difference in their difficult and desperate situations to have a link to the outside world.

Please join us in our quest to end isolation for those in detention. Our leadership team is made up of Bill Everett, our founder and Lead Coordinator, Susan Smith, our Torrance Coordinator, and myself, Kelly McCloskey-Romero, our Volunteer Coordinator and Cibola Coordinator.

Learn more about VIDA at our website – www.abqvida.org. Send us an e-mail at abqvida@gmail.com. You can sign up to become a volunteer here. Please help us ease the isolation that is the day-to-day reality of these immigrants in detention.