LOS ANGELES — Today, Freedom for Immigrants launched a tool called REUNITE to help facilitate collaboration among organizations that are assisting families to reunite with their loved ones.
A number of organizations across the country, including ours, are working around the clock to support people in detention and their families on the outside. We hope this tool will be able to make the process smoother.
“We know how difficult it is for families separated by our immigration incarceration systems to find one another. We have been locating disappeared loved ones since 2010,” said Christina Mansfield, the co-founder/executive director of Freedom for Immigrants.
The tool, which is a form on our website, will help in locating people in U.S. immigration detention, in criminal custody, or in Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters. Parents, family members, attorneys, and advocates may fill out the form, offered in English and Spanish, to locate loved ones or clients who have been separated from their families. The form will be stored in a secure database created by Freedom for Immigrants. Participating organizations will be given access to the back-end of the database, where they can record what forms of assistance have been offered.
The goals of this initiative are to build collective power and to allow organizations to use their limited time and resources effectively and efficiently.
"Last year, my brother went missing, but Freedom for Immigrants helped me find him and visit him," said Deborah Renua, who lives in Canada. "My brother, who struggles with mental health issues, was 24 years old when he went missing in the U.S. immigration detention system. I had been talking to him on the phone and then one day the calls stopped. ICE's Detainee Locator system had no record of him and the facility where he had been detained would tell me nothing.
Freedom for Immigrants found my brother in a hospital in San Diego in the custody of ICE. They advocated for me to be able to visit him, and when I showed up, the nurse told me he became responsive for the first time in more than a month. When they wheeled him in, I was able to hug him, kiss him, and laugh with him. You don't have to be alone in this process. Freedom for Immigrants can help you reunite with your loved one."
Attached is a one-page sheet explaining how this would work. It also provides more information about our National Immigration Detention Hotline, a free resource to people in immigration detention across the country.