Call Congress, your mayor and local representatives. Contact your members of Congress and tell them that you want impending raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be called off and detention conditions improved. The legal defense nonprofit Raices has provided a template and an online form that you can use to email your congressional representatives. You can also reach out to your local officials to ask that they initiate plans to help immigrant communities that are affected by the raids. This official government website has provided links to finding your city, county and town officials.
Local organizations providing legal aid include the New Sanctuary Coalition in New York, Las Americas in El Paso and Raices in Texas, Americans for Immigrant Justice in Florida and the Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund in Colorado.
Hold political candidates accountable. While the presidential primaries are at least seven months away, you can prepare to cast your ballot for a more humane border policy by following what each candidate has shared about his or her plans for immigration reform.
Speak up. Protest marches and other civic actions to end detention camps and squalid conditions for children and families are expected across the country in the coming weeks. You can also take part in Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Detention Camps a nationwide vigil on July 12. Locations for the vigil include:
El Paso, where migrants are being housed “partially outdoors” near a bridge with no running water for months at a time;
Homestead, Fla., where a migrant children’s detention facility has been charged with rampant abuse and neglect;
San Diego, near the point-of-entry border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico;
New York City, where deportation rates increased by 150 percent between 2016 and 2018; and
Washington, D.C., in front of the Capitol building, to demand action from Congress.
Launch a Dignity Not Detention Campaign in your state. You can learn more about that on the Freedom for Immigrants website.
Write a letter to the editor to your local newspaper. These reach a broad audience and are often monitored by elected officials. You can find tips on the ACLU website.
If you can go to the border, you can join many others taking direct action there, from volunteer doctors and lawyers to those leaving water and supplies in the desert for immigrants.
You can also search for Know Your Rights trainings being held in your area, to better inform yourself on how to practice safe bystander intervention, or share the information with people you know who may need it.
If you’re interested in donating to an organization, here are a few of the leading organizations and non-profits involved in immigration issues.
- The American Civil Liberties Union(donation will not be tax-deductible)
- United We Dream
- Immigrant Justice Corps
- Border Angles – too small for a rating through Charity Navigator
- The Florence Project – three-star rating from Charity Navigator
- Freedom for Immigrants– too small to be rated by Charity Navigator
- Kids in Need of Defense – Charity Navigator does not rate this organization because it receives more than 40% of its funding from paid services or government grants. But KIND did receive a gold rating from GuideStar.
- Project Corazon’s travel fund is to send lawyers to detention centers to help protect the rights of immigrants and their families. Through this organization, which is run by the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation, you can donate your airline miles to help fly pro bono attorneys to where they’re needed. So far, the fund has sent 37 lawyers to detention centers and refugee camps. This organization is not rated by Charity Navigator because it does not have seven years of full IRS Forms 990, but GuideStar gives it a bronze rating.
- ActBluehas set up a couple of donation portals to help kids at the border and families separated and detained. Your donation will be split between roughly a dozen organizations all at once.
- The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Servicesis a nonprofit focused on “providing free and low-cost legal services to under-served immigrant children, families and refugees in Central and South Texas,” according to the organization’s website. The organization currently has a three-star rating from Charity Navigator (out of a possible four stars), but received a platinum seal of transparency from charity watchdog GuideStar.
- El Refugio specifically works with the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia, coordinating volunteer visits to immigrants detained at the center and running a hospitality house that offers meals and lodging at no cost. The charity is too small to be rated by Charity Navigator, but it does receive a bronze rating from GuideStar.
- Save the Children is working to deliver immediate humanitarian aid to migrant children and families. The organization is working with local partners to ensure that children and families have necessities such as hygiene kits, diapers and clothing. Save the Children is also running a “Child Friendly Spaces” and children’s play areas at transit shelters in New Mexico for children once they leave the detention facilities, a spokeswoman tells CNBC Make It. The organization has an A- grade from CharityWatch.
- The Texas Civil Rights Projectis working to help get legal advice and translation services to families detained at the U.S. border. The organization also works to interview families to document what is happening to ensure they are reunited as quickly as possible. The organization has four stars, the highest possible rating from Charity Navigator.
- Immigrant Families Together
- National Bail Fund Network
- American Immigration Council: This organization gets on the ground at detention centers helping families, documenting conditions of detention and bringing lawsuits to challenge them.
- Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project: Provides “emergency legal aid to refugee families”.
- Families Belong Together: Is a group effort that “includes nearly 250 organizations representing Americans from all backgrounds who have joined together to fight family separation and promote dignity, unity, and compassion for all children and families.
- South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR): A joint project of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, ProBAR “is a national effort to provide pro bono legal services to asylum seekers detained in South Texas by the United States government. “
- The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights: Provides independent Child Advocates to stand up for unaccompanied immigrant children and “champion the child’s best interests”.
Keep in mind that it’s better to donate money than physical items such as soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes. In fact, the Texas Tribune reported this week that a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility near El Paso turned away donations of food, sanitary supplies, diapers and toys.
Reports out of Texas indicate that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol cannot accept donations of soap, diapers or other supplies for infants and children. If you have items like these that you would like to donate to children and families who need them, contact your local shelters, food banks or diaper banks.