In 2018 the Trump administration announced a “zero tolerance” policy that seeks to criminally charge those who cross (or attempt to cross) the U.S. border without documentation.
As a result of that policy being enforced, nearly 2,000 migrant children have been separated from their detained parents and are being held in “temporary shelters,” which many critics have been quite accurately referred to as “prison camps.”
Sunday, Laura Bush spoke out against Trump’s mistreatment of immigrant families.
“I live in a border state,” she wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on Father’s Day. “I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”
Bush has gotten support from both sides of the aisle on this issue, including from fellow former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Sometimes truth transcends party. https://t.co/TeFM7NmNzU
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) June 18, 2018
Individual citizens might feel helpless and overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of this issue, but there are practical and substantive ways to join the fight on the ground, even if you’re not in a border state. Below are five ways you can do your part to push against the Trump administration’s inhumane treatment of children taken from families seeking asylum.
Many organizations in border states are very actively looking for volunteers willing to complete tasks like organizing legal intake and interviewing families, especially if those volunteers are Spanish-speaking and/or have some sort of legal experience.
The Texas Civil Rights Project, for example, is seeking “volunteers who speak Spanish, Mam, Q’eqchi’ or K’iche’ and have paralegal or legal assistant experience.”
The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) also has a volunteer page where you can apply to become an intern.
RAICES is also seeking people to volunteer for their Accompaniment Program, where “allied individuals, organizations, and congregations provide solidarity to individuals facing deportation or contact with immigration officials for which they would like support.”
Donate to orgs helping the children and their families
For those who don’t live in southern states or meet the qualifications for volunteering, a simple way to help is by donating to organizations involved in this fight.
A great place to start is ActBlue’s initiative to Support Kids At The Border. The funds they raise are split among eight organizations, including the ACLU.
If you are looking to support individual agencies, below is a list to get you started.
- The Young Center for Immigrant and Children’s Rights: focuses on the rights and safety of unaccompanied immigrant children in legal proceedings.
- The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project: supports legal assistance and social services to adults and children who have been detained in Arizona.
- Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project: works to prevent the deportation of asylum-seeking families fleeing violence.
- KIND: Kids in Need of Defense: supports immigrant children’s right to due process and works to ensure that no child appears in immigration court without representation.
- United We Dream: the first and largest immigrant youth-led charity organization in the country.
But if there’s no local event happening near you, you can always organize your own march or rally. Get a group of your friends together, make some signs, spread the word, and hit the streets.
Contact your local representatives
Your elected officials were hired to speak on your behalf, and situations like this are the perfect time to remind them of that.
For a list of U.S. senators and their contact info, you can go here.
For representatives, go here.
You can also download an app like Resistbot, which allows you to write a letter to representatives from your phone, and there’s 5Calls, which provides phone numbers and scripts for calling representatives.
Share updates on your timeline
In this day and age we’ve all seen the power of digital activism and how increased visibility not only creates awareness, but also helps solicit resources and put pressure on elected officials.
However, given the breakneck pace of the 24-hour news cycle, it’s easy for causes you care about to get buried under a pile of memes and viral videos. Which is why it’s important to post about social justice stories in reasonable intervals, share information on social media and remind your friends that this is STILL happening.
Just be sure to avoid hoaxes and fake news stories meant to serve as propaganda.
One couple that serves as a great example of how to do this is John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, who regularly champion causes they’re passionate about in between pictures of red carpet events and tender family moments.