Updates on our visits

On March 13, 2020, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced: “As a precautionary measure, we are temporarily suspending social visitation in all detention facilities.” An ICE official told CBS News that the measure will prohibit visits from family members and friends.

Before this announcement, CWF visit teams had been visiting people detained by ICE in classrooms in the following county jails in Minnesota:

  • Carver County Jail – Chaska
  • Freeborn County Adult Detention Center – Albert Lea
  • Kandiyohi County Jail – Willmar

At this time, our visits with people at Carver and Freeborn continue via Zoom. And, our CWF Volunteer Family of letter writers continues sending weekly letters to our friends in ICE detention in the above three jails as well as in the Sherburne County Jail in Elk River, MN.

The people with whom we visit and correspond are originally from Mexico, Central America, Somalia, Kenya, Liberia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, and other countries.

Goodbye to our friend

Conversations With Friends mourns the loss of Rev. John Guttermann. John died peacefully on December 29, 2016. Survived by his wife Dawn, John leaves a legacy of social justice activism. He founded Conversations With Friends and worked tirelessly for just and humane immigration policy.

Funeral Service will be on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2016 at United Church of Christ, 1000 Long Lake Rd, New Brighton, MN at 3pm, with visitation one hour prior. Visitation time will also be held on Friday, Jan. 6, 2016 from 5-8 PM, at Miller Funeral Home, 6210 Hwy 65 NE, Fridley, MN. Miller Funeral Home 763-571-1300.john_gutterman

A call to compassion

Reverend John Guttermann started Conversations With Friends with a simple vision: to provide a compassionate witness to the humanity of those detained in immigration custody. CWF visitors have been visiting detained immigrants at the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center (ADC) since March 2011 and at the Freeborn County ADC since October 2015.

Today dozens of trained volunteers visit and correspond with people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Minnesota.

This mission was born of an understanding of the fundamental injustice of the immigration detention system, which today holds more than 30,000 people every single day in hundreds of jails and prisons around the United States.

They share stories. They joke. Sometimes they even sing.

Visitors aren’t there to proselytize. The program welcomes visitors of all faiths and of no faith who¬†seek to engage in conversation and share in an hour of human interaction.

They’re not there to provide legal advice or counselling either. People with professional backgrounds are welcome to participate, but they “check their license at the door” and enter simply as compassionate visitors.

It’s a small step toward ending the isolation faced by people awaiting deportation hearings or facing removal from the United States.