How To Help Immigrant Kids Who Are Taken From Their Parents At The Border
Earlier this month, the Trump administration indicated that it would be more readily separating immigrant families at the southwestern border of the United States. This revelation was made after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the U.S. would be prosecuting, as opposed to deporting, anyone seeking to cross the border illegally. This policy also means that immigrant children will be forcefully taken from their parents much more frequently. If you want to help immigrant kids who are taken from their parents at the border, there are many ways you can use your resources and your voice to protect their rights.
UPDATE: Since this story has been published, new statistics from the Trump administration reveal that 2,342 children were separated from their parents between May 5 and June 9 of this year, for an average of 65 separations a day.
As the Women's March described, when undocumented parents crossing the U.S. border are criminally prosecuted, their children are taken away from them and placed into government custody. As the New York Times reported, family separation has been occurring quite frequently during the Trump administration. Indeed, the paper revealed that, since October, there have been over 700 children taken from their parents at the border.
Parents and children are often not given any information regarding the length of their separation. And children are sometimes forced to go through court proceedings alone, without legal representation. Laura St. John, the legal director at the Florence Project, an Arizona immigrant services nonprofit, described the devastating impact of separating children from their parents to Chris Hayes on MSNBC. As St. John noted:
Children and parents who are separated sometimes don’t have any way to communicate with each other for days, for weeks — I’ve seen months where a parent had no idea where their child was after the U.S. government took their child away.
If you wish to help kids who have been separated from their families at the U.S. border, the list below offers some options that will allow you to immediately take a stand on their behalf.
Several organizations have started petitions to demand that the Trump administration stop separating families at the border — and to advocate for immigrant children's rights more broadly.
This petition, from the Women's March, is addressed to Ivanka Trump. The petition asks that Ivanka use her "... influence and leverage with this administration to put a stop to the policies that allow ICE to separate families." You can add your name to over 19,000 signatures by heading to the petition webpage.
Moreover, this petition from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is addressed to the Secretary of Homeland Security and demands that the United States "stop separating children from their parents in immigration detention" because the "practice is inhumane, unnecessary, and unconstitutional." You can add your name to the ACLU's petition here.
Join A "Families Belong Together" Protest
Organizers will hold a nationwide protest against the family separation policy on June 30. The main event is in Washington, D.C., at 11 a.m., but you can go to the Families Belong Together website to check for a protest near you.
Call Your Legislators
As the ACLU noted, Congress has oversight authority over many federal agencies, making it possible for Congress to sometimes overrule agency decisions. Thus, the ACLU and other organizations are asking that you contact your legislators to demand that Congress uses its oversight authority to end the family separation policy.
The ACLU's website offers a brief script that you can use when contacting your representatives. It also will connect you directly to your Senator's office if you type in your phone number, email address, and zip code. Moreover, if you wish to contact your Representatives as well, you can use Call My Congress' website to find their contact information.
Contact The Department Of Homeland Security
In addition to contacting your legislators, you can also contact the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) directly to demand that the federal agency stop separating immigrant children from their parents at the border. The following is the contact information for the Department's Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen:
Moreover, the Department of Homeland Security also has a comment line for its headquarters, which you should be able to use to assert your firm disagreement with the department's policy of separating families. The number for the DHS comment line is 202-282-8495.
Consider A Facebook Fundraiser
One California couple started a Facebook fundraiser to raise money for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). It blew past its initial goal and has now raised more than $9.7 million. You can join in to help them reach their new $11 million goal, or you could also consider starting one of your own.
Participate In The National Day Of Action For Children
Call ICE's Detention Reporting and Information Line
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) falls under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security. It is not necessarily physically responsible for separating children from parents at the border (children are taken into custody by the Office of Refugee Resettlement and parents are prosecuted by the U.S. Marshalls service). However, ICE is the investigative arm of Homeland Security and its director, Thomas Homan, was actively involved in announcing the prosecution and family separation policy.
ICE's Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO)'s Detention Reporting and Information Line can be used for public inquiries about immigration issues, including "separation of minor child or other dependent and other parental related issues." So, consider calling ICE's reporting and information line to demand to that children are no longer separated from their families at the border. The number is 1-888-351-4024.
There are many organizations working hard to ensure that immigrant children's needs are being met while they are being detained by the United States. These are just a few of the organizations to which you can donate to help fund their programs:
- Together Rising: this organization is sponsoring an initiative to provide legal assistance for the 60 children who are currently detained and separated from their parents in Arizona. It also is working to reunite these children with their families and to maintain communication between parents and children in the meantime. You can donate to Together Rising here.
- The Florence Project: according to its website, the Florence Project is working to "provide free legal and social services to detained adults and unaccompanied children facing immigration removal proceedings in Arizona." You can donate to the organization via this link.
- This link, provided through ActBlue Charities, allows you to donate to eight different organizations, including the ACLU and Kids in Need of Defense, working to help kids separated from their parents at the border. You can access the donation link here.
Overall, these constitute just some of the many ways you can take a stand to help immigrant children who have been separated from their parents at the border — and give them a much-needed voice.