Can I make a one-time donation?:  Yes, via PayPal to otayallies@gmail.com or seatacallies@gmail.com.  Your donation will go directly to detainee commissary / phone accounts and to pay the costs of receiving and sending mail to detainees (postage, office supplies, printing).  We are not a 501c3; donations are not tax-deductible. Thank you!



 

Who we are:  We started in San Diego as a group of concerned friends and neighbors sitting around a table in the Del Cerro neighborhood.  Among the original members are Eric and Rosanna Benink and David Kamper and Joanna Brooks, next-door neighbors in Del Cerro, Patti Nussbaum and Giza Braun, friends from Congregation Dor Hadash in San Diego, and Jennifer Gonzalez, a friend and immigration attorney.  From there, we grew to Seattle, when one of our friends, Lydia Heberling, decided to organize her community. Some of us have never done anything like this before; some of us are long-time community volunteers, or activists. We are a diverse group of people with careers and families.  More than 150 people across the country have signed up as volunteers.

Can I start something like this in my town?  Yes, you can.  We are happy to share our process and set up a Zoom conversation to get you started.  Click for instructions here. The immigrant detention industry is enormous.  There is probably a detention center near where you live.  Use this map, researched by experts at Columbia University, to find it. Then email otayallies@gmail.com and we'll share our methods and what we've learned.

Why we centralize our mail and contributions:  Writing refugees fleeing dangerous circumstances is a sensitive process for all involved.  To protect essential legal information--for example, the refugee's "A-number"--and to foster the safest possible connections between allies and refugees, we route mail through a centralized postal box and donations through a centralized PayPal account that is visible to all members of the organizing committee.

Can I send items other than just a letter?:  We are not allowed to provide comfort or personal items directly to detainees.  However, we welcome kids' art (no crayons, glitter, stickers, or oil paints) sized 5x7 or smaller. We also welcome Spanish-language print media--poems, soccer news clippings, etc.--that can help detainees feel more human and connected.  Art and media can be sent directly to the Otay Allies mailbox: 6549 Mission Gorge Road #219, San Diego, CA 92120, and we will distribute it to detainees.

Who else is doing this work?:  We work alongside and in conversation with other community groups  (including SOLACE and Pueblo Sin Fronteras in San Diego).  Our immigration-related legal information is provided by Torchlight Legal.  We are an affiliate of the Freedom for Immigrants national network.

Where can I get more information about the refugee detention crisis?:  Please visit Torchlight Legal and sign up for their researched, accessible briefings.