As New Westminster residents read the headlines about migrant children and their parents separated at the American border, talk on social media is rising – and one question is on everyone’s minds: What can we do?
Local researcher Oana Capota has seen a growing number of her friends asking that question. So she put her professional skills to work and started to dig around to find ways that people can help.
“I put together this list because I have many Canadian and American friends who are horrified at what's happening but said they didn't know what to do,” Capota said in an email.
Capota found ways for people to contribute money, write letters, sign petitions and offer volunteer help.
The list also includes a number of ideas for those who’d like to do something right here at home.
“I did include a section on what to do locally, as there are similar issues taking part in Canada,” Capota said. “Most of the Canadian ideas are basic, but I think an important first step for people who are not sure where to start.”
Here, for those who’ve been asking what they can do, is her list:
- Al Otro Lado (https://alotrolado.org/): a bi-national, direct legal services organization serving indigent deportees, migrants, and refugees in Tijuana, Mexico, including parents whose children remain in the U.S.
- CARA (http://caraprobono.org/): helps with legal services at detention centres; CARA is a consortium of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (https://cliniclegal.org/), the American Immigration Council (http://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/), the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (http://www.raicestexas.org/), and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (http://www.aila.org/). Americans can also volunteer with CARA.
- Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley (https://www.catholiccharitiesrgv.org/Home.aspx): helps with supplies and humanitarian relief.
- Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee (https://www.fianzafund.org/about-the-fund.html): organizes to raise bond money for detained immigrants.
- Florence Project (https://firrp.org/getinvolved/volunteer/): provides free legal service in Arizona to people in immigration custody.
- Kids in Need of Defense (KIND, https://supportkind.org/resources/how-you-can-help-end-family-separation-and-ensure-protection-for-children/): assists with legal representation in the US and reintegration support for children returning to Guatemala and the Honduras.
- Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center (http://las-americas.org/get-involved-2/donate/): provides legal representation to low-income immigrants and families seeking reunification.
- Legal Aid Justice Center (https://www.justice4all.org/): helps unaccompanied minors with legal services and representation.
- Pueblo Sin Fronteras (http://www.pueblosinfronteras.org/): provides humanitarian aid and shelter to migrants on their way to the U.S.
- RAICES (https://www.raicestexas.org/): provides free and low-cost legal services, it is the largest immigration nonprofit in Texas. You can donate to help with bonds (https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/bondfund?source=direct_link&) and to assist children with representation in court (https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/leafund).
- Tahirih Justice Center (http://www.tahirih.org/): provides legal services, training and education for immigrant women and girls, and policy advocacy.
- Texas Civil Rights Project (https://texascivilrightsproject.org/keepfamiliestogether-volunteer/): donations help five families and others who have been separated; they also need “volunteers who speak Spanish, Mam, Q’eqchi’ or K’iche’ and have paralegal or legal assistant experience.”
- Urban Justice Center’s Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (https://asap.urbanjustice.org/): provides legal representation.
- Young Center (https://www.theyoungcenter.org/): advocates for immigrant children.
- ActBlue (https://secure.actblue.com/donate/kidsattheborder): aggregated 12 groups for joint donations.
Petitions and donations
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has a lot of initiatives:
- Share this petition with American family and friends: https://action.aclu.org/petition/separating-families?ms_aff=NAT&initms_aff=NAT&ms=180309_immigrantrights_icedetention&initms=180309_immigrantrights_icedetention&ms_chan=web&initms_chan=web
- Follow a case the ACLU is currently litigating: https://www.aclu.org/cases/ms-l-v-ice
- Share information with American family and friends about calling senators: https://www.aclu.org/issues/call-senators-stop-dhs-separating-children?ms_aff=NAT&initms_aff=NAT&ms=180503_immigrantrights_familyseparation_&initms=180503_immigrantrights_familyseparation_&ms_chan=web&initms_chan=web
- Other related petitions: https://www.aclu.org/action
- Donate to the ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/donate-aclu?ms=menu_gift&ms_aff=NAT&ms_chan=web&initms=menu_gift&initms_aff=NAT&initms_chan=web
Closer to Home
- Organize a teach-in, workshop, presentation or film screening.
- Host a fundraiser dinner for an organization.
- Volunteer with groups locally that help immigrants, refugees, Indigenous people and migrants. There are opportunities to provide job search mentoring, English language teaching and more practical assistance.
- Support immigrant businesses and projects.
- Invite a newcomer neighbour for coffee or to a barbecue. Go to a multicultural or Indigenous special event.
- Read about myths and facts about immigrants and refugees (see Canadian Council for Refugees at http://ccrweb.ca/en/myths-facts).
- Read about immigration detention in Canada and alternatives in other countries (https://north99.org/2018/06/18/now-is-the-time-for-canada-to-end-child-detention-and-separation/).
- Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action (http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (or UNDRIP, http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf).
• If you know any American immigration lawyers,let them know where they can volunteer their services. Many of the organizations listed above also work with pro bono lawyers. Other groups are:
- American Immigration Lawyers Association (https://twitter.com/AILANational)
- Human Rights First (https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/asylum/pro-bono-attorneys-and-volunteers)
- Amnesty International (https://www.amnestyusa.org/urgent-actions/urgent-action-border-officials-forcibly-separate-families-usa-ua-256-17/): has tips and information on who to write to.
- Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: read the recommended guidelines for human rights at international borders (http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Migration/OHCHR_Recommended_Principles_Guidelines.pdf) and contact the UN Office for Human Rights (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/ContactUs.aspx).
- A spokesperson for the Southern Border Communities Coalition (http://www.southernborder.org/) encourages the public to write letters to the editor and op-eds about how the family-separation policy “contradicts American values.”
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