This is not about politics, it’s about humanity. How we treat our most vulnerable reflects who we all are.
As an American, as a mother, as a human being, I have been trying to figure out what I can do to help. I put together info in this blog post from organizations I know about already, articles I have found, and other people’s efforts. I’m keeping it up on our website so it is easy to reference. It’s a work in progress, and please share more information so I can continue to update it.
Children in the United States are being separated from their families, held in squalid, overcrowded conditions for far longer than the court mandated 72 hours, given no place to sleep but a foil blanket on a concrete floor, and left to take care of each other. They are hungry. They are being denied basic necessities like soap and toothbrushes.
Here is a good start for background:
Slate summarizes what is happening with a great list of organizations and a brief summary of what has been happening.
The New Yorker has an interview of what is happening inside child detention center. They have a thorough fact checking department that I have personally experienced.
Elle Magazine has some thoughtful suggestions of how to take action.
Highlights for Children makes a non-partisan plea to end the inhumanity of child detention and family separation.
The New York Times has a thorough account of what attorneys observed at the Border Station in Clint, Texas.
For the Fox News perspective, there are also reports of unsafe and unsanitary conditions for children.
Let’s take our outrage and transform it into action. We can all help in different ways.
1. Do I have money to donate?
One of the best ways to help is by donating to pay for the bonds of people being held in detention and to get them legal help. Bail for immigrants in detention can be set from $1,500 to $8,500. Here’s a list of organizations that help with legal representation: Immigrant Families Together, Immigrant Defenders Law Center, RAICES , Vera Institute of Justice, The National Immigrant Justice Center .
2. Do I have miles to donate?
If you have surplus airline miles or credit card points to donate, Miles for Migrants can make use of those expiring miles.
3. Do I have items to donate?
Border Patrol is not allowed to accept physical items. It’s better to donate to organizations that are helping people post-detention reunite with family. If you can donate locally, do! We work with incredible refugee resettlement partners who may be close to you. Some are working in this space, and all are working with recently resettled refugees. If none of them is close to you, here’s a link to government-sponsored refugee resettlement groups. Check to see what they need and try to organize a drive to cover it. Maybe they need 1000 toothbrushes and you can corral your friends, family and neighbors to put that ask together.
If you are a legal services provider who knows a parent looking for their child, look at ICON, a partnership between Vera Institute of Justice and New America. From Vera: ICON “is a resource for parents who have been separated from their children due to the administration’s zero tolerance policy—as well as for the attorneys for these parents—to locate and connect with the legal service providers (LSPs) working with their children. ICON also seeks to ensure due process for these separated children and their families. While the federal government is the only entity that can physically reunite children and families, ICON provides a route to connect parents and their legal representatives with a legal service provider that is working directly with their children. Attorneys or parents seeking children should: Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and Call 800-845-8372. From ICE detention, use the free calling system in the ICE detention facility and dial 621#.”
5. Can I advocate for children formally if I am not a lawyer?
Yes you can! A friend at Vera Justice recommended the Young Center. If you are in Chicago, Houston, San Antonio, Harlingen, Phoenix, Los Angeles, New York, or Washington, D.C., you can train as a child advocate.
6. Do I speak a second language?
Immigrant Families Together is often looking for translation help over the phone. That’s right! You don’t even have to leave your house to be helpful. Their volunteer signup form asks about all sorts of skills you may have to offer that could make a difference. IFT harnesses its volunteer network because families who need reunification are spread across the country. If you are in Arizona, the Florence Project could use your help.
7. Can I host an asylum seeker?
I just learned about Freedom for Immigrants. You can pledge to host an asylum seeker. There are more volunteer opportunities on their site.
8. Do I know anyone in my community who may need information about their rights?
Maybe you do, maybe you don’t; maybe you do and don’t know it.
United We Dream has put together “What to do if ICE comes to your door.” Please note that the “Fight Back” description header is about understanding legal options, getting a legit attorney, and not giving up hope. United We Dream also has other resources for people who could potentially be detained. Often, we don’t know the immigration status of our neighbors or friends, and they may benefit from knowing this. Share this information widely. Print it out and put it up in public places.
Also, Notifica is an app by United We Dream that lets a person store all the important contacts in case of ICE detainment and sends a message if the person needs to.
9. Have I seen any raids that I want to report?
Breathe and don’t panic. Call United We Dream’s Migra Watch Hotline: (844)363-1423. It’s an opportunity to share information with an organization that knows how to respond.
10. Am I good at connecting people to resources?
Julie Schwietert Collazo started Immigrant Families Together a year ago to figure out a way to bring back together families who have been separated. IFT posts bail, but they also need volunteers to help drive people to hearings, and across the country to reunite families. They help find housing, and get people settled. The Director of IFT for California, Casey Revkin Ryan, is someone I know personally, and I have watched her tirelessly organize to help the families they serve.
11. Do you know someone who has been separated from their child?
ICON is a group ready to help: Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-845-8372. From ICE detention, use the free calling system in the ICE detention facility and dial 621#.”
From Vera Institute of Justice: “ICON, a partnership between the Vera Institute of Justice and New America, is a resource for parents who have been separated from their children due to the administration’s zero tolerance policy—as well as for the attorneys for these parents—to locate and connect with the legal service providers (LSPs) working with their children. ICON also seeks to ensure due process for these separated children and their families. While the federal government is the only entity that can physically reunite children and families, ICON provides a route to connect parents and their legal representatives with a legal service provider that is working directly with their children.”
USE YOUR VOICE!
The right to vote has power. Vote with your values. Hold candidates and lawmakers accountable for how they treat recent immigrants. People seeking asylum, undocumented people and not-yet citizens do not have the right to vote. Are you registered? Check here at vote.org. Are you over 16 and want to get registered early? Some states let you preregister so that everything is in order by election day.
Mark July 12 on your calendar. Across the country and the world, Lights for Liberty:. A Vigil to End Human Detention Camps is holding vigils at detention centers and other locations. If there is not an event planned near you, here’s an opportunity to organize one.
Make a call or email your elected officials. Contact your congresspersons! Here’s how to find your representative, or just call the US Capitol switchboard at: (202) 224-3121. Tell them what you think.
Many people do not know what is happening. Talk with them. Here are some helpful links to articles to explain the situation: 1, 2, 3. Again, this is about how we choose to treat real-life people.
Harness social media for good. Use it to spread the word about what is happening and ways to help. Follow organizations you support! (FYI: we are @welcomeblanket on Instagram, Facebook:, Twitter, and also have a Ravelry Group, #welcomeblanket)
17. PROTEST (as a playdate)!
If you have kids and want to organize a #closethecamps playdate at a local congressional office, here’s how: Momtivist is about helping families participate in activism. They are hosting a webinar this Sunday at 5:30 PST/ 8:30 EST and offer a toolkit outlining exactly how to organize and lead a playdate protest at a local congressional office. Kids have a voice, too, and here is a great way to involve them. Here’s the toolkit and signup for the webinar
18. Make a Welcome Blanket and share your immigration story.
Help both asylum seekers in limbo and newly arrived refugees feel more welcome.
Welcome Blanket packages do not go to detention centers. We are currently working with IRC Phoenix on a special project to help asylum seekers in limbo: Welcome Blanket On Call. We work with resettlement partners across the country to welcome refugees and other immigrants.
We are also looking for more hosts for the original Welcome Blanket model. Here’s why:
Showing our work together makes a big impact. It creates conversation with a wider audience.
Welcome Blanket makes it easier for organizations to receive all your amazing handmade work. The organizations let us know how many gifts they need and we send them along already individually packed post-exhibition.
We have hosts lined up, but they are not yet ready to collect. You can either make a blanket package for Welcome Blanket On Call or make one for a future exhibit (keep making blankets!). If you know of a possible host that can receive packages, help organize and document them, display them loudly and proudly, and then distribute to refugee resettlement partners, send me a message at email@example.com.