Souls Offering Loving And Compassionate Ears
Interfaith Detention Center Visitation Project
SOLACE is an interfaith visiting program that comforts and supports persons held in immigration detention, tells their stories, and advocates for a humane immigration policy. Through SOLACE volunteers provide a caring and compassionate presence and affirm the humanity and value of people held in detention. SOLACE is an affiliate of CIVIC www.endisolation.org, a national visitation support and immigration reform advocacy organization.
SOLACE volunteers meet monthly to discuss issues related to immigration visitation. Regular orientations are held for those who are interested in learning more about the program and potentially becoming visitors.
As part of SOLACE we offer a friendly visitor to end the isolation and affirm the dignity and worth of those we visit, not as lawyers, social workers, bankers, therapists, or missionaries.
Visits are made at the Otay Detention Facility owned by the Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit company traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Currently, detainees are not entitled to legal representation or a speedy appearance in court, isolated from families and vulnerable to abuse. They are held indefinitely, in some cases for years, while backlogged immigration judges hear their cases.
A more humane system is possible, and necessary, and SOLACE seeks to bring to light the suffering of immigrants and families in the current system, to hasten its coming. To this end SOLACE also collaborates with other organizations that are working for humane treatment and justice for immigrants.
Visiting asylum seekers and immigrants detained in an ICE or private prison is challenging and extremely rewarding. First and foremost is knowing that through our simple presence and friendly listening, we can ease the distress of another, someone isolated from loved ones, from family and work, from the shelter they expected when they came to our country seeking asylum from danger and torture in their home country.
It’s a transformative experience—we make contact with people and worlds we would never know. Although our visits are conducted via phone and window, we touch each other’s souls and both grow beyond the telling of it.