Freedom for Immigrants announces launch of Alternatives To Detention program

The program will secure the release of people from immigration detention, provide them with housing and case management support, while expanding a movement toward abolition

LOS ANGELES, CA — Freedom for Immigrants is excited to introduce Liz Wilson and Elizabeth Torres, two new staff members who will be leading our Alternatives to Detention program as part of our mission to end U.S. immigration detention.

“We believe that one of the best ways to resist the hate-filled rhetoric and harmful policies currently targeting immigrants is to work with communities to build solutions,” said Christina Fialho, co-founder/executive director of Freedom for Immigrants. “To truly abolish immigration detention, we must envision and experiment with new models that show the country how we can welcome immigrants or keep them in our communities without ever having to resort to confinement, whether physical or electronic. Treating immigrants humanely should be the rule, not the exception.”

Freedom for Immigrants has been piloting community-based alternative to detention programs since 2010, through the start of our Revolving Immigration Detention Bond Fund. In 2018 alone, we raised over $500,000 and bonded out more than 100 people. Most of this was accomplished through the generous support of individual donors and the leadership of staff members, especially Rebecca Merton who built the foundation for the launch of this program officially today.

In addition, in mid-2018, following the family separation crisis, we officially launched our Sponsor Freedom Initiative in an effort to involve more people in being a part of the solution. Through this program, volunteers are able to open up their homes to asylum seekers recently released from immigration detention. More than 900 people have signed up since then.

“The idea behind the Sponsor Freedom Initiative is to show that, if given the opportunity, individuals will respond by welcoming immigrants, even into their own homes,” said Christina Mansfield, co-founder/executive director of Freedom for Immigrants. “Profiting off of a person’s suffering is unconscionable and unacceptable. Rather than funneling taxpayer money into the pockets of private prisons and counties willing to contract with ICE, communities would embrace and support asylum seekers and other immigrants while they go through the immigration process.”

With the support of our new team members, Freedom for Immigrants will be expanding in exciting ways this coming year.  We will continue to grow our bond fund and sponsorship program. Specifically, we will be launching a new impact investment opportunity designed to reunite families separated by U.S. immigration detention.  We also will be working on opening at least one (if not two!) homes for people released from immigration detention. So stay tuned.

And join us in welcoming Liz Wilson and Elizabeth Torres:

Liz Wilson is our Director of Alternatives to Detention. Originally from the United Kingdom, Liz holds a BSc in Psychology and a Masters in Social Work. She has many years of experience in child protection and housing for people experiencing homelessness. Prior to joining Freedom for Immigrants, Liz worked as a Social Worker with asylum seekers for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and as the executive director for about 10 years of a non-profit in Peru providing education and support for families living in poverty.

Elizabeth Torres is our Bond Fund Coordinator. Originally from Colombia, Elizabeth immigrated to the United States at a young age, and became keenly aware of the systemic human rights violations that disenfranchised immigrants face on a day to day basis. She hold a MA in International Affairs from UC San Diego’s Graduate School of Global Policy and Strategy and a BA in Political Science from UC, Los Angeles. Prior to joining Freedom for Immigrants, Elizabeth worked as a Human Rights Investigator for the Fair Food Standards Council and a Certification Program Manager at Fair Trade USA, where she gathered valuable expertise on how to develop programs that disrupt and provide alternatives to established and unjust systems.