Events Resources

Border Experience Pilgrimage

Faith leaders from Northern and Southern California visited Calexico, US and Mexicali, Mexico April 26th-27th, 2023 in a multifaith Pilgrimage to learn and bear witness to struggles immigrants are facing at the U.S. – Mexico border in California, and to call for a better future. The delegation first traveled to Mexico to visit a shelter in Mexicali where many asylum seekers have been blocked from approaching the border and seeking asylum and protection. The following day, the group conducted a prayer service in front of Imperial Regional Detention Facility in Calexico, US, to bear witness to the suffering of those who are detained inside. The Pilgrimage ended with a visit to the Holtville cemetery of unnamed immigrants who have died in the desert in the region.

The Pilgrimage aimed to shed light on the injustices of the current asylum seeking process and immigrant detention. Fairness, freedom and opportunity should be at the core of our immigration system, but our current system isn’t set up to uphold these values. Instead, the Federal Government systematically blocks and deprives people of their liberty, separates them from their loved ones, and often puts lives at risk in ICE detention. The current system of detention didn’t exist just a few decades ago, and is inhumane and unnecessary: people can navigate immigration proceedings while living with their families or in the community without the trauma of immigration detention.

Learn more about the Imperial Valley, the harms of immigrant detention including at Imperial Regional Detention Facility, and the right to seek asylum with the Border Experience Pilgrimage Resource Guide.

Events Resources

Pilgrimage to Angel Island

Pilgrimage to Angel Island 2022

On Nov 5, 2022, we led a pilgrimage to Angel Island, a multi-faith spiritual journey to remember, heal & end ICE detention, convened by Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants, & Asian Prisoner Support Committee.

Pilgrimage is about reconnection with each other, with our ancestors, with mystery and the depth of life. We remember in order to heal, to recover collective memory, to decolonize ourselves, to restore our deeper souls. —Dr. Joanne Doi, MM.

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity organized pilgrimages in 2010, 2018, and 2022 to Angel Island Immigration Detention Station, a national landmark that bears witness to the experiences of immigrant detainees. The Immigration Station on Angel Island (1910-1940) served to control mostly Chinese migration into the United States through a brutal and dehumanizing process. This interfaith pilgrimage explored:

  • The institutionalized othering and incarceration of people of color both in prison and detention systems, past and present
  • Discerning the role of faith responses to the immigrant struggle
  • Honoring the resilience of immigrant communities who assert their humanity and dignity.

Pilgrimage is an ancient spiritual practice in many traditions. They have evolved into modern journeys that evoke layers of meaning, collective memory, healing, and ongoing commitment to reconciliation, justice, and compassionate service. Our Angel Island pilgrimages are part of a tradition of postcolonial pilgrimages that revisit shadowed ground, sacred traces of suffering, and hope. The postcolonial pilgrim’s journey seeks restoration towards a regained wholeness by a re-centering, re-entering and recovery of history; it is a rediscovery that we are part of a living and vital collective memory. 

Angel Island Pilgrimage – More Resources

Congregational Ministry and Advocacy: the Angel Island Immigration Station Era 1910-1940 tells the little-known stories of faith leaders and religious institutions who ministered to and provided hope and physical care to immigrants who were held in detention at Angel Island Immigration Station. Their voices sought to improve living conditions, advocated for immigrants’ release, and fought for reform of unjust policies. Reading these stories kindles our spirits to be faithful and provokes us to ask ourselves: How are we to respond today? Co-edited by Rev. Deborah Lee of Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, and Craig Wong of Grace Urban Ministries.

Angel Island Pilgrimage: A Reflection on Roots, Migration, Detention, & Border Control – a pilgrimage guide by Kenneth Schoon, at the Graduate Theological Union’s Berkeley Art and Interreligious Pilgrimage Project

Text of our 2018 Ceremony to honor ancestors, past and present, who experienced forced migration and detention.

2018 Angel Island Pilgrimage Booklet, in English or Spanish:

2018 Angel Island Pilgrimage program booklet:


Abolition Resources

IM4HI/DND Pilgrimage for a Better Future 2022

We invite you to read and share the Pilgrimage For a Better Future Resource Guide with educational resources and ways to take action that congregations, school communities, and individuals can use.

Lessons from the ICE Detention Contract Termination in Contra Costa County 

In July 2018, the sheriff of Contra Costa County announced he would end his contract with ICE to house about two hundred immigrants in the West County Detention Facility (WCDF) in Richmond, California. The closure was a dramatic moment, after a seven-year public education campaign led by the faith community. 

During the months and years before the announcement, congregations and faith-based organizers had educated the public, built a network of relationships with lawyers and community-based organizations, and cultivated champions among elected officials. They had created a safety net of accompaniment and support for detained migrants and their families. When the sheriff decided to end the county’s involvement in detention, detainees, their families, lawyers, and community-based organizations scrambled to respond and adapt. 

A year later, after the passage of Assembly Bill 32, we convened some of the key players to discuss the lessons we learned and create this resource.

Just Closures Guide

This guide, created in partnership with the Dignity Not Detention Coalition (DND), provides information and resources around Just Closure. DND defines Just Closure as a phase-out process that ensures people are completely liberated from the cruel conditions of incarceration and are allowed to be reunited with their communities. This includes support beyond release from incarceration, including the ensuing legal battle to fight against deportation proceedings. Our Just Closure Model also calls on elected leaders to reinvest in localities that have been exploited by carceral profiteers that force under-resourced communities to rely on immoral prison pipelines. Just Closures shift power away from carceral punishment systems and empowers local communities to reimagine public safety, health, and restoration. 

The People’s Plan for Prison Closure

Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), a coalition of more than 80 organizations, is working to reduce the number of people in prisons, reduce the number of existing prisons, and redirect funding to build the infrastructure of vulnerable communities. This report, The People’s Plan for Prison Closure (PPPC) is a visionary roadmap that demands bold commitments to justice reinvestment. It provides detailed recommendations including the prioritization of ten prisons to close in the next five years and why, a call to close all women’s prisons, an analysis of cost-savings to be reinvested in impacted communities, and data-driven information about the roles racism continues to play in both prison expansion and overcrowding. 

Health and Safety for Young Migrants: Recommendations for Supporting Unaccompanied Youth

Thousands of immigrant youth arrive to the US without a parent of legal guardian and are placed in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) until they can be released to a sponsor. Often ORR detains these youth in restrictive, large-scale, congregate settings that harm their health and wellbeing. Rooted in the stories, experiences, and recommendations of young people who arrived to the US as unaccompanied youth, this resource draws from public health evidence documenting the heath harms of these large-scale, restrictive settings. It puts forward a vision for ending the current system of detaining unaccompanied minors in harmful settings and for shaping health, just, and supportive immigration policies for unaccompanied youth.

Following the work of organizations with experience and expertise in working with unaccompanied youth, including Detention Watch Network and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the resource presents a list of systemic and long-term recommendations that promote the health and wellbeing of impacted youth. 

Dignity Not Detention (DND) Coalition

@CADignity – The Dignity Not Detention Coalition is a statewide network of organizations fighting to abolish immigrant prisons. IM4HI is an active member.