from President Rick
Located in an RV parked outside the Northwest Detention Center in the Tide Flats of Tacoma, is the Advocates for Immigrants in Detention Northwest (AIDNW) post-detention Welcome Center. On Tuesday, October 1, AIDNW volunteer Betty Devereux provided a moving presentation on the history of the organization and their services. Established in 2005, AIDNW provides emotional support to immigrants in detention and support services when they are released from the Northwest Detention Center (now call the Northwest Immigrant Processing Center), a 1,575 bed, privately-run detention center operated on behalf of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
A major component of AIDNW’s services is the Welcome Center, where immigrants released from detention are connected to vital resources. Often immigrants who have been confined at the Northwest Detention Center are released with little or no notice into Tacoma’s Tide Flats. few resources or supports. Teams of volunteers staff the Welcome Center from 2-7 p.m.. Monday through Friday, to welcome released immigrants with caring support, letting them know they are valued and safe. The Welcome Center provides phones, arranges for transportation to the bus station, airport or taxi, and when needed, and provides temporary housing until more permanent arrangements are made.
While in detention, friends and family are often prevented from visiting these immigrants because of distance and transportation, confusing visitation schedule, language barriers, or fear. AIDNW provides phone cards so detainees can make phone calls to friends, family and advocates.
Some immigrants who have been released do not immediately leave Tacoma. These are people who have been granted asylum or been released on bond, and they may be eligible for various social and community services. AIDNW volunteers assist immigrant guests at their Hospitality House in accessing services by providing transportation to needed appointments. The Post Detention Accompaniment Network (P-DAN) includes volunteers who provide asylees staying in the Hospitality House with assistance with shopping, translation/interpretation, transportation to bus or airport, and connections to helping agencies.
Joining Betty to tell his story of being in the Northwest Detention Center was Ammar, an Iraqi citizen who worked with US troops during the Iraq War. Ammar immigrated to the US after the War. He was arrested in Seattle and detained for two years after failing to appear for an immigration hearing when the notice had been sent to the wrong address. He was finally “bonded” out of the Detention Center by the US Army Captain he worked with in Iraq and is being housed by AIDNW while he is working to get reestablished. With the assistance of AIDNW Ammar recently received his Commercial Driver’s License.