Join us, as we dive into understanding immigration in the U.S! The topic of immigration is very complex. It’s a difficult topic to discuss, because there’s so much to consider from both sides of the issue. In recent years, border control and immigration has been a huge issue in the United States, and as such, we are not out to solve it in this episode by any means! While this episode is not an all encompassing episode, it provides a glimpse into the “other side” of this issue we hear less about. In fact, you’ll likely learn things in this episode leaving you in disbelief that such inhumane treatment is taking place in our country.
This conversation will help you better understand the topic of immigration in the U.S. from the perspective of the immigrant, while also seeing a behind-the-scenes look at what happens in our detention detention centers. Here, we are just beginning the conversation in a way that helps us better understand. When we understand, we can better empathize…and when we can empathize, we can have more informed conversations and make better informed decisions! That’s what this episode is all about - simply understanding the perspective of the immigrant and their experiences in U.S. detention centers, so that we can be better informed on this “side” of the issue.
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El Refugio is an organization that offers mental, emotional, and physical support to immigrants in detention and their families. They host families at their hospitality house, visit people in detention, provide post-release support, and educate and advocate for reform of the U.S. detention system (and much more!).
Topics covered in this episode:
- How El Refugio helps immigrants living inside detention centers, the hospitality they provide their families, and the advocacy they do on behalf of immigrants
- Why people migrate, why they leave their home country, and why there are so many people immigrating to the U.S. right now.
- Understanding the immigrant experience, and what it’s like for them along their journey
- Brief discussion of border issues in the United States
- Understanding the for-profit detention system in the U.S., how detention centers operate, and who owns them
- The inhume treatment of migrants, and what they experience in detention
- Stories of progress and advocacy for immigrants in Georgia
In this conversation Amilcar Valencia, Executive Director of El Refugio, reveals the inhumane treatment immigrants endure both on their journey to the United States and once they arrive to U.S. detention centers. Admittedly, some of what you learn will be horrifying and sad, but that’s not the end of the story! El Refugio is walking alongside immigrants in detention daily and advocating for their dignity and rights with regular success! It’s a true story of overcoming darkness and bringing light to families here in the United States.
Reports & Complaints:
- IMPRISONED JUSTICE: Inside Two Georgia Immigrant Detention Centers May 2017, Report by Project South and Penn State Law Center for Immigrant’s Rights Clinic
Co-founder and Executive Director of El Refugio
Amilcar's passion for justice led him to the immigrant movement supporting people affected by the immigration policies in the US. He was born in La Libertad, El Salvador and earned a bachelor’s degree in Theology from the University of Central America UCA.
He has been involved in the immigrants’ rights movement in Georgia for many years, including through working for the Georgia Latino Alliance for Humans Rights (GLAHR). In 2010, Amilcar along with his wife Katie Beno-Valencia and a group of immigrant rights advocates was a founding member of El Refugio, an organization accompanying immigrants detained at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA. In 2015, he was named El Refugio’s first executive director.
Valencia an immigrant himself, with many family members with mixed immigration status, understands the plight of those who live under the threat of detention and deportation. For him, working at El Refugio close to the people directly impacted has shaped his personal life. He is driven by the deep desire to fight for the human dignity of immigrants. Valencia is passionate about making the affected community visible, raising their voices, accompanying them in their struggles, and supporting their efforts to end the inhumane and unnecessary detention and deportation system.
In 2019, Valencia was named one of the 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the steering committee of Georgia Detention Watch and serves as a board member for Detention Watch Network (DWN).
Related blog posts:
Read a written story about my experience visiting Stewart Detention Center with El Refugio: An Inside Story from a Georgia Detention Center
Watch on YouTube!
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