9 Organizations Helping Migrant Children That You Can Donate To

by Morgan Brinlee
Originally Published: 
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An Associated Press report detailing the poor living conditions facing migrant children being held at a Customs and Border Patrol detention center in Clint, Texas, sparked widespread public outrage. Since then, many people have tried to donate a variety of supplies for detained migrants through Border Patrol to no avail. But while Border Patrol won't take your donations, there are a number of organizations helping migrant children that can absolutely use your help.

Lawyers told the Associated Press they'd found kids as young as 8 having to take care of other kids along with inadequate food, water, and sanitation when visiting the 250 children held at a Border Patrol facility in Clint. But efforts to supply food or personal hygiene items like soap, diapers, toothbrushes, and toothpaste to the migrant children were quickly rebuffed by Border Patrol. As Bustle reported last week, the Antideficiency Act keeps Border Patrol from being able to accept donations, leaving many flummoxed about how to help.

In a statement widely issued to media outlets earlier in the week, Customs and Border Protection said it "leverages our limited resources to provide the best care possible to those in our custody, especially children." The agency went on to say that its leadership has "noted numerous times" that its "short-term holding facilities were not designed to hold vulnerable populations" and that it "urgently" needed additional funding. Border Patrol also said it took all allegations of civil rights abuses or mistreatment at detention centers seriously, investigating them all "to the fullest extent possible."

But although Border Patrol won't take your donation, there are ways to help. Here are nine organizations working to help migrant children that you can donate directly to:

Save The Children

While Save the Children has long supported kid-centered relief programs for children in the United States, the organization began advocating for the rights of migrant children in June 2018. Their work at the border is focused on providing immediate humanitarian aid to children and families who are newly arrived to the country.

The organization also claims to be "the only national response agency working in transit shelters focused on the unique needs of children" — something they rely on donor support to be able to do.

Recently a county official in Deming, New Mexico, told local paper the Deming Headlight that Save the Children had set up a kids' safe zone and play zone for migrant children who had been dropped off by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in mid-May and needed emergency shelter. According to the paper, Save the Children volunteers also regularly come and do arts and crafts with the children.

You can also support Save the Children through the One Family Coalition (OFC). Steven Wolfe Pereira, the Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of Encantos, a family entertainment and education media company that co-founded OFC, tells Bustle in an email that the non-partisan group makes it easy for businesses and business leaders to donate to organizations that are doing the most "... impactful work on the ground at the border."

Wolfe Pereira adds that OFC is "currently working with Save the Children to support their two shelters in New Mexico and will be organizing a trip for business volunteers to help at the border in early August." He also emphasizes that OFC "directs 100% of all donations" to its non-profit partner. If your business (or a business you work for) is interested in joining the coalition, they can do so via OFC's website.

Project Corazon

The Lawyers for Good Government Foundation established the Project Corazon Travel Fund in June 2018, a month after The New York Times dropped its report on the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant families at the border. Since then, the fund has sent 37 volunteer lawyers and law students to what it calls "the front lines of the humanitarian crisis caused by inhumane immigration policies" so they can provide free legal services to migrants seeking asylum.

Donations to the fund help cover the cost of flights, hotels, rental cars, and meals for volunteer attorneys working pro bono with migrants in refugee camps and remote detention centers. According to Project Corazon's webpage, airfare or a one-week stay at an economical hotel for one volunteer attorney costs an average of $500. However, those eager to donate but short on cash can donate their airline miles instead. What's more, attorneys can donate their time and skills by applying to be a volunteer.

Kids In Need Of Defense (KIND)

Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) seeks to ensure that no migrant child appears in immigration court alone by providing free high-quality legal representation. According to their website, they've helped more than 18,300 children and seek to advocate for laws and policies that protect children and their rights. You can donate directly to the organization or work with KIND to set up a fundraiser.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

While a donation to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) may not go directly toward helping a migrant child, the legal organization has been defending migrants' rights on a national level for years. In fact, they've filed class-action lawsuits challenging the Trump administration's policies of separating families at the border and forcing asylum seekers to apply from out of the country.

Immigrant Families Together

You can help a child be reunited with their parent with a donation to Immigrant Families Together, an organization that works to raise bond funds for detained parents separated from their children. Along with paying the bonds of detained parents, the organization also seeks to provide pro bono legal representation, safe transportation to wherever the children have been taken, and, if needed, housing and resources for families awaiting immigration trials.

The Texas Civil Rights Project

For 26 years, The Texas Civil Rights Project has sought to use legal advocacy to drive policy change and protect civil rights in Texas. The organization is specifically helping families detained or separated at the border obtain legal advice and translation services, according to their website. The organization has also pledged to "continue pursuing litigation against federal immigration agencies that refuse to comply with the constitutional right to a fair legal process for all immigrants and asylum seekers."

Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES)

The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is a legal nonprofit that aims to provide free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children and families in areas of Texas. The organization, which was founded in 1986 under the name the Refugee Aid Project, claims to be the largest immigration legal services provider in the state.

Donations to RAICES help the organization aid unaccompanied minors as well as detained or separated families seeking asylum in the United States. Its Children's Program is focused on providing free information, referrals, and direct representation to thousands of unaccompanied minors in the Office of Refugee Resettlement custody each year.

Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights

Founded in Chicago in 2004, the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights seeks to provide immigrant children who arrive unaccompanied in the United States from around the world with child advocates that will champion their rights and best interests throughout the deportation process. Donations to the organization go toward helping to provide every child with a child advocate.

If you're over the age of 21, you can also apply to be a child advocate with the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights, which provides training, support, and supervision. Advocates visit the child they're paired with weekly and accompany them to any court hearings or other immigration meetings, helping them think through and understand their options while working with the Young Center to advocate on their behalf.

Act Blue's Support Kids & Families at the Border

For those with the means of making a monetary donation but who are unable to decide just where to send their funds, Act Blue's Support Kids & Families at the Border campaign may be a worthwhile choice. Donations to the fund are divided between 14 different organizations, including KIND, ACLU, RAICES, the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, and others. You can opt to allow Act Blue to divide your donation evenly among the groups, or divide it up yourself.

This list represents only a fraction of the organizations working to help migrant children and families. And donating money isn't the only way you can help. Speaking up on behalf of detained migrants — especially to your elected officials — is another way to assist. Snag the contact information for your Congressional representatives and a few talking points from 5 Calls. Or get connected directly to your representative by the ACLU, which will provide you with a script of what to say to ask your lawmaker not to fund the detention of migrants. You can also hold legislators accountable at the ballot box by showing up to vote during elections.

This post was updated on July 10, 2019. Additional reporting by Sarah Friedmann.

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