Impacting immigration detention policies through civic engagement

Meet With a Decision Maker

When politicians know that their constituents care about an issue, they are more likely to vote or take action in favorable ways. Establishing and nurturing relationships with your local, state, and/or national representatives is crucial to enacting policies that protect and affirm the rights of immigrants, and also to preventing policies that would negatively impact immigrant communities.

Request a Detention Tour

Request a detention tour to learn more about a detention facility in your area, or to conduct a shadow inspection of the facility. For more information about the need for shadow inspections, see Detention Oversight. Touring a detention facility through ICE’s stakeholder access policy is possible as long as participants are associated with an organization and submit the required information:

  1. Written request: Provide a written request to the Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Field Office Director at least two weeks in advance of the requested tour/visit. You can find a sample request letter on page 14 of Using ICE Contracts to End Abusive Detention: An Advocacy and Organizing Toolkit.
  2. Code of Conduct: These are rules stakeholders must follow when allowed on the premise to tour a facility. Every person attending the tour must read, sign and submit a code of conduct.
  3. Stakeholder Tour/Visit Notification Flyer: You must clearly state in your request if you want both “a detention facility tour” and “visitation with detainees” in order to speak with immigrants who are currently detained. If you do want to interview detained individuals, complete and submit the “Stakeholder Tour/Visit Notification Flyer” form. ICE uses this form to post a sign-up sheet inside the facility to notify detained individuals of an upcoming visit and the opportunity to talk to visitors.
  4. If you are going to interview detained individuals, you should also create a consent form and submit it to ICE ahead of time with your other documents.

For more information about using ICE’s stakeholder access policy, see the Women Refugee’s Commission guide.

Before conducting a detention tour, make sure you have a clear plan regarding what information you are looking for, and what you will do with the information after the tour. DWN will support members to create anonymized summary reports of any shadow inspections conducted. If possible and appropriate, we will post these reports to the Immigration Detention Transparency and Human Rights Project, alongside the facility’s contracts and official ICE inspections. For more information contact

Use the Media

Use the media to educate your community about what is happening at your local detention center, to recruit more community members to join you, and to put additional pressure on the decision maker(s) you are targeting. You can find many resources to support your media work, including talking points, a sample letter to the editor, and press templates, on pages 29-34 of our toolkit: