“Locked in a Box” is an award winning short documentary that follows the stories of individuals held in the U.S. Immigration detention system and those who visit them. The film traces the lives of individuals who fled their homelands in search of safety and freedom only to end up in U.S. prisons under a mandatory bed quota system run by Immigration Customs & Enforcement (ICE). Since the 1990’s there has been a massive expansion of the immigration detention system up to 34,000 immigrants in detention on any given day in approximately 200 different facilities, many of which are for-profit prisons. “Locked in a Box” helps strip away the political rhetoric to see the human cost of detention.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance supports the development of visitation ministries, legal orientation programs, and community-based services to those who are released in partnership and collaboration with Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service (LIRS). This film is the result of the collaboration between PDA and LIRS with local partners in the hope of inspiring its viewers toward action.

View or download the 24 minute documentary

View or download the "Locked in a Box" Study Guide




"A Tradition of Welcome" is a short video about our denomination’s long commitment to ministry with refugees and asylum seekers here in the U.S. and around the world. This video highlights the particular role of PDA to support and equip churches to provide compassionate care to refugees seeking safety in the U.S., known as asylum seekers. In his recent letter on the escalating violence by ISIS, Gradye Parsons, our former Stated Clerk, encourages us to “Choose Welcome, Not Fear."


A Tradition of Welcome from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance on Vimeo.


In addition to the "Locked in a Box" documentary, PDA has produced a series of informational interview clips with Refugee & Asylum Catalyst Susan Krehbiel and Immigration Attorney Teresa Waggener from the Office of Immigration Issues of the Office of the General Assembly. These interview clips cover the topics of:


Visitation Ministries: How Congregations Can Get Involved


Advocacy: Changing the Immigration Detention System


Legal Services: Expanding Legal Representation for Immigrants in Detention


Teresa Waggener Reflects on the Impact of Immigration Detention



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