Freedom for Immigrants is excited to announce the presentation of the 2019 Reverend John Guttermann Legacy Award to Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees in Florida for their outstanding contribution this year to the detention visitation and abolition movement.
Freedom for Immigrants established this award in honor of Reverend John Guttermann, who passed away in December 2016 after a valiant fight with brain cancer. Rev. Guttermann was the founder of Conversations with Friends, a visitation program in Minnesota that was one of the first in the country, and a member of Freedom for Immigrants’ founding Leadership Council.
Each year, Freedom for Immigrants awards the Reverend John Guttermann Legacy Award to one or more outstanding visitation programs. Freedom for Immigrants presented the 2018 Rev. John Guttermann Legacy Award to First Friends, the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, and Sojourners as well as the 2017 Rev. John Guttermann Legacy Award to Conversations With Friends.
Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees (FOMDD) has been a volunteer-run organization for the past five years. Initially founded as a visitation program at the Krome Service Processing Center in Miami, over the years their work has expanded to include four initiatives. FOMDD supports the immediate needs of detained immigrants by providing money for phone calls, books, connecting with family, clothes for deportation, and at times free legal consultations. For over a year, FOMDD also has helped sustain the Circle of Protection in Miramar, where immigrants are forced to report to ICE. Every week, volunteers stand outside and bear witness to silent raids and inhumane conditions while comforting immigrant community members and resisting ICE. For the holidays, FOMDD helped to organize an amazing party for the children and their parents outside the ICE office. Because of the amazing work FOMDD has been doing, their founder Bud Conlin, has been banned from visiting at Krome, but Bud has spoken out to explain why silence is not an option for visitor volunteers.
“I was honored to take Bud Conlin and the founding team of FOMDD on their first visit to Krome back in 2013. Since then, I have witnessed FOMDD grow into a nonprofit that is dedicated to abolishing immigration detention while supporting the organizing and power-building initiatives of those of who are most impacted,” said Christina Fialho, the co-founder and co-executive director of Freedom for Immigrants. “Rev. Guttermann often talked about providing a ministry of presence. It is beautiful to see his legacy live on in the love, hope, and compassion that FOMDD brings into some of the darkest systems of oppression in our country.”
Congratulations to this amazing organization!