Thank you for your interest in volunteering with CAIR Coalition!
Our team depends on our community of dedicated volunteers to answer our Detention Hotline, translate documents, interpreter legal calls, and attend visits to immigration detention centers. As a volunteer, you’ll help ensure equal justice for all immigrant individuals in the DMV area.
Interested in one of the below volunteer opportunities?
Start the volunteer sign up process now.
Please note: Volunteer trainings are required for Detention Hotline volunteers and Jail Visit volunteers. No training is required for volunteer translators and interpreters. To sign-up for a training, please first complete our volunteer sign-up process.
Volunteering with Jail Visits
CAIR Coalition conducts monthly visits to government immigration detention facilities in Virginia to provide immigrant individuals with general information about the detention process, their legal rights, and options for fighting deportation. During jail visits, volunteers help conduct follow-up meetings with individuals we’ve previously talked to, and intakes with new individuals.
What are the requirements to become a jail visit volunteer?
- Spanish speakers, as well as speakers of other languages are highly desired. Spanish working proficiency is preferred, but not required. We have a limited number of English-only spots on each jail visit (typically 1-2 spots).
- All volunteers must attend a virtual jail visit training (1.5 hours)
- Completion of volunteer sign-up form, NSOPW name search consent form, various DOJ forms, and a CDF background release form (if attending a Caroline jail visit).
- Due to the policies of the jails we visit, only US citizens/green card holders and people with valid visas are allowed in the facilities. Because of the background check requirements, volunteers must have a SSN. If you are on a visa or have other status in the U.S., please let us know.
- Volunteers cannot currently work (including contract work, volunteer work, and internships) with the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, or any other law enforcement agency. Volunteers cannot currently work for any type of media organization.
- All in-person volunteers (including jail visit volunteers) must be fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19. Volunteers will be required to submit a COVID-19 vaccine self-certification form.
- Volunteers who can commit to multiple visits are preferred.
- No prior experience is necessary as you will be led by CAIR Coalition staff members.
How much of a time commitment is this?
Jail Visits are full day commitments. Volunteers must be in the jail parking lot by 7:45am for Caroline Detention Facility and 8:45am for Farmville Detention Center. The jail visit begins at 8am or 9am and typically concludes at 5pm. If you are local to the DC area, you can expect to leave for the jail around 5-5:30am and get home at around 7-9pm.
How will I get to and from the detention centers?
Volunteers are responsible for securing their own transportation to and from the jails. Jail visit volunteers who have a car and are willing to carpool with other volunteers should let the Volunteer Manager know when they sign up for a jail visit. Jail visit volunteers who do not have a car and will need a ride should also let the Volunteer Manager know when they sign up for a jail visit. The volunteer manager will help connect folks who need rides with folks willing to carpool.
Since CAIR Coalition staff attend two-day jail visits, they cannot transport volunteers to and from one-day jail visits. We will need volunteers with cars to help us transport other volunteers to one-day jail visits.
What will I do during the jail visit?
- Conduct intakes with unrepresented people who are newly detained.
- Deliver follow up messages to unrepresented people that the CAIR Coalition team has spoken to before.
- Usually this will be in Spanish, at times in English. There will always be LOP staff available to guide you through the visit and answer questions.
Will I receive training?
Yes, a 1.5 hour long virtual Jail Visit training is mandatory for all volunteers, including those who have been previously trained.
Volunteering with the Detention Hotline
CAIR Coalition’s detention hotline enables detained immigrant individuals to call CAIR Coalition staff for free, Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Volunteers help individuals access legal services by connecting callers with our staff, delivering follow-up messages relating to individuals’ cases, and providing information about CAIR Coalition’s upcoming jail visits. Volunteers staff our hotline in 2-hour shifts, but may sign up for multiple shifts in a row. Volunteers can cover the Detention Hotline remotely, or they have the option to come into the DC office on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Beforehand, all volunteers must first sign up for a mandatory hour-long hotline training.
Please note that Detention Hotline volunteers must have minimum working proficiency in Spanish. CAIR Coalition requires all Detention Hotline volunteers to be at the B1 proficiency level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). While the mandatory hotline training session will cover how to use CAIR Coalition's phone system and database, a basic level of comfort with phones and computers is highly encouraged.
Volunteering with Document Translation & Oral Interpreting
Our most frequent translation and interpretation needs are for Spanish-speakers, but since we work with people from a variety of countries requiring a variety of language needs, we occasionally have both written translation and remote interpretation opportunities for less-commonly-spoken languages.
Volunteer Translators help translate various court documents such as birth certificates, declarations, letters of support, and news articles. These translations directly support the legal cases of CAIR Coalition clients. Volunteer Interpreters interpret calls between CAIR Coalition attorneys and clients/family members/witnesses, as well as for psychological and medical evaluations. No certification is required to be a volunteer translator or interpreter, but strong fluency is required.