El Refugio is a non-profit organization that began its roots with the Georgia Detention Watch, in which members began leading groups to visit immigrants and asylum seekers detained at Stewart Detention Center in 2008. After witnessing the challenges shared by those visiting loved ones at Stewart — traveling long distances, the trauma of family separation, and the lack of resources such as hotels and restaurants in the remote town of Lumpkin — a group of friends established El Refugio. The idea was to open a hospitality house offering meals and lodging at no cost to those traveling to Stewart Detention Center.
El Refugio hosts families in which they offer lodging, meals, and support to those visiting loved ones detained at Stewart Detention Center. They take individuals and groups to visit immigrants detained at Stewart Detention Center. Most importantly, they help with post-release support in which they support people coming out of SDC with plane and bus tickets, information, and referrals.
El Refugio can help those who may have a loved one detained at Stewart Detention Center by sending a loved one a book to alleviate boredom, putting a small amount of money on a loved one’s commissary and phone accounts, sending grocery store gift cards, arranging for a bag of clothing for a loved one, in case they are deported. They can also provide post-release support for a loved one, if they are released on bond or parole, or because they won their case.
Not only does El Refugio provide support, but they provide educational materials to those wanting to learn more. They educate the community by giving presentations to schools, churches, and community groups to increase awareness of immigration detention and advocate for justice for immigrants.
To help support El Refugio and their efforts to educate/support those dealing with the Stewart Detention Center, you can donate on their website where the money offers meals, lodging, and additional assistance to our guests free of charge.
El Refugio provides ways to volunteer such as visiting individuals detained at Stewart Detention Center, spending a weekend at the Hospitality House hosting families and visitation groups, writing letters to detained individuals, inviting them to share immigration detention and organization with your faith community, community group, or friends, answering our hotline (Bilingual Spanish required), holding a drive for clothing, toiletries, or gift cards (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org), becoming a pen-pal via letters, the phone, or video-conference (Speakers of a language other than English needed), and serving on a committee such as letter-writing, advocacy, or fundraising.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can contact them on their website, https://www.elrefugiostewart.org/.