1. Advocacy Resource
  2. Immigrants & Refugees

Interfaith Resource: Engage With Congress on Family Incarceration and Separation

By Hannah Graf Evans, August 3, 2018


Congress has an important role to play to end family incarceration and separation. But right now, they are considering pouring billions of dollars into inhumane immigration enforcement, detention, and border militarization, while considering legislation that could incarcerate more families indefinitely.

Congress must act to fund the government for fiscal year 2019 by September 30, 2018. It is imperative that people of faith and conscience make our voices heard immediately. Members of Congress will be home in August, and below are ways that you can urge them to reverse this course.

Here’s what you should be asking your members of Congress to do through September 30:

  1. Urge the administration to end “zero-tolerance” criminal prosecution of families and asylum seekers for crossing the border. This causes family separation, and it must end now. Tell the administration to immediately reunify families already separated.
  2. Reduce funding for immigration detention, deportation, and border militarization, and reject legislation or spending bills that expand family incarceration.
  3. Invest in and direct the administration to utilize community-based alternatives to detention such as the Family Case Management Program. The administration ended FCMP in June 2017; it should be restored.

Making Your Voice Heard

  1. Call Congress.​ Call 1-866-940-2439 three times to connect with your 2 Senators and 1 Representative.
  2. Visit your member of Congress’ office. ​Schedule a visit using the IIC Neighbor to Neighbor Visit Toolkit, or drop off materials.
  3. Show up at a Town Hall. ​Ask your member of Congress what they are doing to stop forcible family separation and family detention. Encourage them to reject additional spending for detention and deportation, and increase oversight over existing enforcement. Look up if your member of Congress is having a town hall at townhallproject.com or by calling their DC office.
  4. Write a Letter to the Editor or Opinion Editorial.​ Call on your member of Congress by name in your local newspaper to expand oversight. Instead they should direct the administration to utilize community-based alternatives to detention for families, asylum seekers, and immigrants navigating the immigration system. Find your local newspapers here.
  5. Engage with candidates running for office in your community. Candidates need to hear that this is an issue that voters care about. ​Ask candidates if they support reducing funding for immigrant detention and investing in community-based alternatives to detention. Ask what they will do to advance policies that protect family unity and the dignity of all immigrants, refugees, and migrants.
Advocacy Resource Asking Questions at Town Halls 

Town halls are a great opportunity to hear directly from your member of Congress. Here are some tips to help you make the most of it.

Advocacy Resource Publish Letters to the Editor 

Publishing letters to the editor and op-eds is a great way to get the attention of your members of Congress. But first, you need to write a piece that tells your story – not just the facts.

Print the following resource to leave behind after a visit, drop off at your member of Congress’ office, or leave with staff at a town hall or a candidate forum.

Legislative Ask Stop Incarcerating Children and Separating Families 

Reject legislation that expands family detention. Instead, increase oversight of immigration and border enforcement, cut funding for deportation and detention, and invest in community-based alternatives to detention.

This resource was developed in partnership with the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, which FCNL co-chairs.

Hannah Graf Evans

  • Legislative Representative, Immigration and Refugee Policy

Hannah Graf Evans lobbies for compassionate immigration policies. Our immigration system should empower immigrants and the American communities to which they belong, lift up the voices of border communities, and ensure adequate protections for refugees, asylum-seekers and victims of trafficking. Hannah co-chairs the steering committee of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, made up of over 45 faith-based organizations.