1. Action Alert
  2. Immigrants & Refugees

Invest in Alternatives to Detention As a Solution to Family Separation

By Hannah Graf Evans, August 15, 2018

Ending family separation does not mean that we must expand family detention.

There are underused, community-based alternatives to detention. They allow individuals and families to navigate the immigration and asylum processes with community support.

Will you write a letter to the editor of your local paper calling on your senators to fund community-based alternatives to detention and cut funding for detention beds accordingly?

One such alternative is the Family Case Management Program (FCMP). FCMP began in 2015, in response to an increase in Central American families seeking asylum from gangs and other violence.

The program operated in five cities, where families lived in communities rather than be incarcerated together in remote detention centers. Enrolled families were supervised by social workers, who helped them find lawyers, housing, and transportation, and made sure they attended their immigration court hearings. Around 99 percent of participants attended court appearances and ICE check-ins. However, it was severely underused. Over the two years the program was in effect, there were never more than 1,600 people enrolled. Conversely, more than 350,000 immigrants were held in ICE detention just in 2016.

The administration ended FCMP in June 2017; it should be restored.

The House Appropriations Committee agreed to restart the program, and now senators need to hear from you that this is the right approach. We shouldn't be detaining asylum seekers and families, especially when there is a proven alternative.

The FCMP is a proven community-based alternative for families seeking safety. Through a letter to the editor, you can ask Congress to invest in and direct the administration to support safe alternatives like case management. 

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 served as co-chair of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition steering committee for three years and still plays an active role in pursuing shared policy priorities of the more than 50 faith-based member organizations.