In five-plus years writing this weekly note, I have only written a handful of times about political issues because…‘we’re on vacation we don’t want to talk about tough news stories.’ I understand that and respect the premise, but I am also of the opinion that all of life is political and insisting on ‘No politics!’ does nothing to stop what continues to swirl around us, every day. That we can ignore the plight of so many, only speaks to our privilege. Of course, it’s okay to sit back, relax and enjoy another margarita, but it’s also okay to take action.
“What can I do?” someone asked me the other day. I know many of us are watching what is unfolding on the world’s stage with horror, feeling that there is not much we can do from here. But like in all times of trouble the good rise to the occasion and thousands are working to help the families affected. Rather than despair that we are too far removed, I took a moment to do a little checking, and I found a fairly inclusive list of people and organizations across the US and into Mexico that are doing what they can to help the families affected which you can find on page seven this week. Below, you can find all the links already loaded, making it even easier for you to take action.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good (people) do nothing.” Edmund Burke
Take a moment, maybe make another margarita while you donate, write a letter or join a campaign. Then take out your calendar and plan for all the live music and events that we have compiled here for you today. Despite it being mid-June there are still dozens of things happening in Vallarta and north through Banderas Bay.
Here’s How You Can Help Fight Family Separation at the Border
Lawyers, translators, donations, protest.
If you’re horrified by news of families being separated at the borders, here’s a bit of news you can use even if you’re in Mexico.
First, the policy: It helps to be incredibly clear on what the law is, and what has and has not changed. There are two different policies in play, and both are new.
First is the new policy that any migrant family entering the U.S. without a border inspection will be prosecuted for this minor misdemeanor. The parents get incarcerated and that leaves children to be warehoused. The parents then typically plead guilty to the misdemeanor and are given a sentence of the few days they served waiting for trial. But then when the parents try to reunite with their children, they are given the runaround—and possibly even deported, alone. The children are left in HHS custody, often without family.
Second is a new and apparently unwritten policy that even when the family presents themselves at a border-entry location, seeking asylum—that is, even when the family is complying in all respects with immigration law—the government is snatching the children away from their parents. Here, the government’s excuse seems to be that they want to keep the parents in jail-like immigration detention for a long time, while their asylum cases are adjudicated. The long-standing civil rights case known as Flores dictates that they aren’t allowed to keep kids in that kind of detention, so the Trump administration says they have to break up the families. They do not have to break up families—it is the government’s new choice to jail people with credible asylum claims who haven’t violated any laws that is leading to the heartbreaking separations you’ve been reading about.
Next: Which groups to support. All links to these organizations can be found at www.vallartatribune.com
- The ACLU is litigating this policy in California.
- If you’re an immigration lawyer, the American Immigration Lawyers Association will be sending around a volunteer list for you to help represent the women and men with their asylum screening, bond hearings, ongoing asylum representation, etc. Please sign up.
- Al Otro Lado is a binational organization that works to offer legal services to deportees and migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, including deportee parents whose children remain in the U.S.
- CARA—a consortium of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, the American Immigration Council, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association—provides legal services at family detention centers.
- The Florence Project is an Arizona project offering free legal services to men, women, and unaccompanied children in immigration custody.
- Human Rights First is a national organization with roots in Houston that needs help from lawyers too.
- Kids in Need of Defense works to ensure that kids do not appear in immigration court without representation, and to lobby for policies that advocate for children’s legal interests. Donate here.
- The Legal Aid Justice Center is a Virginia-based center providing unaccompanied minors legal services and representation.
- Pueblo Sin Fronteras is an organization that provides humanitarian aid and shelter to migrants on their way to the U.S.
- RAICESis the largest immigration nonprofit in Texas offering free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children and families. Donate here and sign up as a volunteer here.
- The Texas Civil Rights Project is seeking “volunteers who speak Spanish, Mam, Q’eqchi’ or K’iche’ and have paralegal or legal assistant experience.”
- Together Rising is another Virginia-based organization that’s helping provide legal assistance for 60 migrant children who were separated from their parents and are currently detained in Arizona.
- The Urban Justice Center’s Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project is working to keep families together.
- Women’s Refugee Commission advocates for the rights and protection of women, children, and youth fleeing violence and persecution.
- Finally, ActBlue has aggregated many of these groups under a single button.
- CLINIC’s Defending Vulnerable Populations project offers case assistance to hundreds of smaller organizations all over the country that do direct services for migrant families and children.
- American Immigrant Representation Project (AIRP), which works to secure legal representation for immigrants.
- CASA in Maryland, D.C., Virginia, and Pennsylvania. They litigate, advocate, and help with representation of minors needing legal services.
- Freedom for Immigrants (Formerly CIVIC), which has been a leading voice opposing immigrant detention.
- The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center represents all of the immigrant kids placed by the government in foster care in Michigan (one of the biggest foster care placement states). About two-thirds are their current clients are separation cases, and they work to find parents and figure out next steps.
- The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project is doing work defending and advancing the rights of immigrants through direct legal services, systemic advocacy, and community education.
- Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights works for the rights of children in immigration proceedings.
- The Women’s Refugee Commission has aggregated five actions everyone can take that go beyond donating funds.
- And finally, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)—which organizes law students and lawyers to develop and enforce a set of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced persons—just filed suit challenging the cancellation of the Central American Minors program.
- Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative has a guide to organizations throughout Texas that provide direct legal services to separated children. Also listed within the guide are resources for local advocates, lawyers, and volunteers.
- Immigrant Justice Corps is the nation’s only fellowship program dedicated to expanding access to immigration representation. Some IJC fellows work at the border, and others work in New York, providing direct representation in immigration court to parents and children resettled in New York City and surrounding counties.
- The Kino Border Initiative provides humanitarian aid to refugees and migrants on both sides of the border. They have a wish-list of supplies they can use to help migrants and families staying in the communities they serve.
- The Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network supports undocumented immigrants detained in Aurora, Colorado.