If you’re outraged by children being taken from their parents at the U.S. border, there are ways you can put an end to it. Here are five ways you can help migrant kids separated from their families right now.
Helping migrant kids separated from their families
By now, you’ve probably seen the viral Tweets and photos being shared of the overcrowded immigration facility in Texas that’s currently housing over 1,000 children who were taken from the parents while crossing the U.S. border. The unconscionable treatment of these kids and their parents has sparked outrage online and left many of us wondering what we can do to help.
The separation of parents and their children at the U.S. Border has peaked since early May, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced plans to prosecute 100% of people who cross the U.S. Border illegally. “If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said at a law enforcement conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, on May 7.
As Vox explains, people who are apprehended while crossing into the U.S. have typically been held in immigration detention and sent before an immigration judge to see if they will be deported, which doesn’t result in them being separated from their families. But immigrants who’ve been referred for criminal prosecution — as the current administration has vowed to do in 100% of cases — get sent to a federal jail and brought before a federal judge to face possible prison time. You can’t be kept with your children in federal jail, and that’s why so many more families are currently being separated.
It’s hard to know how many children have been taken from their families. Reuters reports that family separations were taking place in some cases before May, resulting in approximately 1,800 separations between October 2016 and February 2018. But since the Department of Justice announced their intent to prosecute every single person who crosses the border illegally, that number has increased sharply. According to data provided to Congress by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 658 children were taken from their parents from May 7 to May 21 of this year.
I’m a part of the first group of journalists to go into the shelter for detained child migrants in Brownsville Texas since the zero tolerance separation policy was announced. 1000+ boys here.— Jacob Soboroff (@jacobsoboroff) June 13, 2018
Going in right now.
More tonight w @chrislhayes on @allinwithchris @MSNBC. #inners pic.twitter.com/NeLlaDdSKv
By the end of May, Business Insider reports that around 10,000 children were being held without their parents. And the facilities where these children are being held are running out of room and resources. Not to mention, experts warn that separation is causing these children to suffer potentially irreparable lifelong trauma.
There are many members of congress taking action to put an end to the separation of immigrant families. Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced bill S.3036, which would bar children from being separated from their parents, and now has the support of at least 40 senators.
UPDATE: 40 senators now support our bill to bar children from being taken from their parents at the border. We’re continuing to ask Republican senators to join our bill. If you’re represented by a Republican senator, please ask them to cosponsor S.3036. #FamiliesBelongTogether— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) June 14, 2018
If you’re wondering what you can do to get involved, here is a list of references and resources to get started. Here are five things you can do right now to help migrant kids separated from their families:
1. Contact your senators and representatives
For a list of U.S. senators and their contact info, you can go here. For representatives, go here. You can also download apps, such as Resistbot, which allows you to write a letter to representatives from your phone, and 5Calls, which provides phone numbers and scripts for calling representatives.
2. Support ActBlue’s initiative to Support Kids At The Border
Funds raised will be split among eight organizations, including the ACLU, that are supporting and advocating for the rights of children and families. More info on the organizations can be found at the link.
3. Support individual agencies working to represent kids and families
- 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.
4. Attend or host a rally or march
You can find or plan events in your area at WeAreTheChildren.Org.
5. Have more ideas? Share them on Winnie.
Posted by Sara Mauskopf
Sara Mauskopf is the co-founder and CEO of Winnie. She’s also the mom of two young daughters and another child on the way! Originally from Philadelphia, she now lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area.