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Will Investing in Community Groups Keep Immigrants Out of Detention?

“It’s solidarity, not charity,” said Grace Kindeke, who helps people recently released from immigration detention with housing, food, legal and health services in her community of Concord, New Hampshire.

Immigrants come to the United States looking for safety and stability. But instead, many find confusion navigating the complexity of the immigration system, said Kindeke, who works with the nonprofit American Friends Service Committee.

Congress set aside $5 million for a Department of Homeland Security watchdog agency, the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, to test a method for distributing grants directly to local community groups and nonprofits.

Congress expects for the new pilot program to include legal and cultural orientation, social services like mental health care and help reintegrating for those deported.

“That feels like an important shift,” said Katharina Obser, a senior policy adviser for the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice program. But “given the limited funding that it has and the little information that we have about it right now, I think it really remains to be seen whether that program is going to be set up for success,” Obser said.

In addition to Capital & Main, this article appeared in four other news outlets, including MSN-Australia and Newsweek.

Learn more about WRC’s work on immigration detention, custody, and alternatives.