Thursday, December 6, 2018

Guest Post: You Can Still Help Immigrants in America — Here’s How

Kate Harveston is a political writer from Pennsylvania. Her favorite topics are feminist-focused, but she writes on a wide variety of social and cultural issues. If you enjoy her work, you can follow her on Twitter or visit her blog, Only Slightly Biased.

Although the buzz in the news seems to have died down, the crisis on the U.S. southern border is still very dire. Despite signing an executive order on June 20th presumably ceasing the zero-tolerance policy forcing the separation of families seeking asylum at the border, the Trump administration has continued to secretly tear immigrant children away from their parents. 
There are approximately 13,000 immigrant children in detention in the U.S. If the situation immigrants face breaks your heart, you're not alone. Take action — there are things you can do to help.
Support the Work of the ACLU
The ACLU works tirelessly to reunite immigrant families, and your donation will go far in supporting their work. The ACLU initiated the original lawsuits decrying immigrant family separation as unconstitutional. After recently learning of new allegations of family separations, they promised further legal action.
Department of Justice officials state that the recent separations took place only to protect the welfare of children of parents suspected of criminal activity in their home country. The ACLU sent a letter requesting evidence of the allegations against the parents. In one such case, Julio, an immigrant from El Salvador, has his son Brayan ripped from his arms by customs officials despite legally seeking asylum at a port of entry armed with a letter prepared by a lawyer from his home country explaining the family's flight from gang violence.
The ACLU has reunited several immigrant families, including some in which the parents had already been deported. The costs associated with providing legal aid are considerable, and you can rest assured that your donation will be put to good use in continuing their work.
Contact Your Elected Representatives
While organizations such as the ACLU continue to do all they can, the importance of contacting your elected officials cannot be overstated. Now more than ever, senators and representatives need to hear that their constituents stand firmly against family separation.
The ACLU suggests contacting your elected officials and leaving a message with your name and zip code. In your message, request that they vote against using taxpayer dollars to fund the Department of Homeland Security, the department which oversees ICE. Make it clear that you oppose family separation.
Support Attorneys Fighting to Reunite Families
While countless attorneys have volunteered their time and talent to help immigrants, they need your support to be successful in their efforts. The US has roughly 700,000 pending immigration cases, and we know that the immigration court system is considerably broken.
You don't need a law degree to volunteer to help. If you speak Spanish, you can sign up to volunteer with the Texas Civil Rights Project or the legal aid society. Volunteers are needed to interview immigrants seeking asylum.
Don't speak anything other than English? Attorneys still need volunteer assistance with administrative matters such as document preparation. If you know an immigration attorney in your area, reach out to them and ask how you can assist them. No time to volunteer? You can donate directly to RAICES, which provides legal aid to immigrants.
Donate Necessary Hygiene Items
If you're a parent, you know how expensive child-rearing can be. Immigrant children and the organizations assisting them desperately need supplies such as diapers, baby wipes, dental care items and other hygiene products. You can help by donating these items.
One organization taking donations is Baby2Baby. Baby2Baby recently coordinated with Target to create a registry of needed items for infants and children in detention. Baby2Baby also provides help for low-income children in the U.S. regardless of their immigration status.
Support Farm Workers
If you've noticed higher prices on your last trip to the grocery store, chances are, the reason your produce became so pricey is due to immigration crackdowns at the border and across the nation. Of the roughly 3 million farm workers in the U.S., approximately half of them lack legal papers allowing them to work here.
Should the crackdown continue, expect grocery prices to keep rising as produce lies rotting in fields. Because farm work is dirty and dangerous, few Americans take these jobs, and fewer still stick with the work for long. The non-profit organization Farmworker Justice empowers immigrants to improve their living conditions while also advocating for them legally. Your donation to this organization can help some of the nation's hardest workers while ensuring farms have the hands they need to get food from the field to the table.
Nothing could be more in the spirit of the holidays than helping out immigrants who need it most, so don't wait. Take up one of these actions to do your part as soon as you can.

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