20 Ways You Can Help Immigrants Now by Julia Travers – YES! Magazine

Immigrant children are dying in federal custody. Children in detention are being denied basic supplies like soap and blankets—and the Trump administration says that’s fine. Trump threatened then delayed mass immigration raids across the country, using the plan as a bargaining chip with Congress, while families are left in an ever-heightened state of uncertainty.

While Congress is continually being called to act, you can take other kinds of actions to help immigrants in transition, in detention, and in crisis. Here are 20 ways.

1. March and protest. Japanese internment camp survivors recently protested outside of an army base and former internment camp at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where migrant children will likely soon be housed, setting an example of how people can show up and speak out.

2. The Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Detention Camps event aims to “bring thousands of Americans to detention camps across the country, into the streets and into their own front yards to protest the inhumane conditions faced by refugees.”

3. Helping pay immigrants’ bail is one of the fastest ways to help those who have been separated from their children, advocates say. Community bail funds can reuse the money paid if the person shows up for their court appearance.

4. Help pay for immigration counsel. Find organizations by Googling “indigent immigration defense” along with your state’s name.

5. Host an asylum-seeker or refugee in your home, with a group like Room for Refugees.

6. Immigration is federal law, but all politics are local. Tell your local law enforcement and government officials not to partner with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials for raids or any other purpose.

7. People of significant financial means could play a more active role funding nonprofit organizations that directly serve immigrants and advocate for legal reforms. Philanthropists can fund case management, human rights watchdog groups, research that drives policy, or higher education programs and scholarships for social workers who specialize in immigrant support services. The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy has several articles on how philanthropy can back immigrant causes.

8. Support local and national groups working to help immigrants, like Immigrant Families Together, RAICES, and the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. Local groups often hold community demonstrations and provide sanctuary, transportation, court accompaniment, and resettlement programs to immigrant populations, and they are in need of volunteers. Contact a local group and ask them what they need most.

9. Create a fundraiser. Immigrant Families Together offers a long list of potential fundraiser formats on its site, ranging from movie nights to silent auctions.

10. ActBlue Charities is a registered organization formed to democratize charitable giving. It provides a list of reputable organizations that work to help children at the border.

11. Volunteer locally to mentor and tutor English-language learners. By teaching English as a second language, you can help people navigate American culture more successfully.

12. Join a pen pal or visitation program for detained immigrants, such as the ones run by First Friends of New Jersey and New York.

13. Immigrant-focused groups are creating resources to help people know their constitutional rights if confronted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Learn these rules and share them widely in your neighborhood and online.

14. Use art, music, social media, conversation, and other expressions and connections to draw attention to these issues.

15. If you work in education, create school curricula to help young people learn about human and, specifically, immigrant rights. Teaching Tolerance offers learning materials that facilitate the exploration of topics like race and immigration in the classroom and “explore the value of a diverse society.”

16. Donate air miles. Lawyer Moms of America is one group that contributes airline miles and funds to people in border shelters. This enables those who have achieved asylum to leave and makes space for new arrivals.

17. Donate household goods. Organizations like the International Rescue Committee and U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants give people with the basic supplies they need to establish a new life in the U.S.

18. 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.

19. Explore how we got here. To learn more about how the U.S. government can respond to the border crisis and the root causes of migration and displacement in the Northern Triangle (the Central American countries Honduras, San Salvador, and Guatemala feeding much of the migration), check out this blueprint from Human Rights First and other organizations. A few of the recommendations with the U.S. are “restoring timely and orderly” asylum processing at ports of entry and an increase in permitted refugees, immigration judges, and case management services for immigrants (such as the Family Case Management Program, which was terminated by the Trump administration in 2017).

20. Finally, do call on Congress to support legislation like the current Shut Down Child Prison Camps Act and Families Not Facilities Act. Or tell your senators and representatives to stop giving increased funds to the government agencies responsible for the rise in detentions.

What other actions can you take? Remember to practice self-care and do what you can, today.

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House Approves Border Aid, Seeking to Curb Trump’s Crackdown – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — A divided House voted on Tuesday to send $4.5 billion in humanitarian aid to the border to address horrific conditions facing a crush of migrants, attaching significant rules on how the money could be spent in the first action by Democrats to rein in President Trump’s immigration crackdown.

But the package — which passed by a vote of 230 to 195 nearly along party lines, only after Democratic leaders toughened restrictions on the money to win over liberal skeptics — faces a tough path to enactment. A similar measure with many fewer strings binding Mr. Trump has drawn bipartisan support in the Senate. And the House bill faces a veto threat from White House advisers, who regard the Senate bill as the surest way to speed the needed aid to strapped agencies dealing with the migrant influx.

Hours before the House bill passed, Mr. Trump said that he did not like some of the restrictions that lawmakers were seeking to place on the humanitarian funding, but that he badly needed the resources.

“There are some provisions, I think, that actually are bad for children,” Mr. Trump said in an interview for a coming book about his immigration policies. “There are a couple of points that I would like to get out of it, but I also have to get the money to be able to take care of children and families.”

While the House debated, the administration again overhauled the leadership responsible for border policies, naming an immigration hard-liner and former Fox News contributor as acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. The new acting commissioner, Mark Morgan, has been pushing for the nationwide deportation raids that the president delayed last week. The move continued the turmoil at the Department of Homeland Security, whose senior ranks were purged two months ago.

House Democrats, in approving the aid package, said they were finally acting to block what they saw as Mr. Trump’s cruelty on the border.

“The president’s cruel immigration policies that tear apart families and terrorize communities demand the stringent safeguards in this bill to ensure these funds are used for humanitarian needs only — not for immigration raids, not detention beds, not a border wall,” said Representative Nita M. Lowey of New York, the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.

The back-and-forth over the measure highlighted the bitter partisan strife as well as the internal divisions in both parties incited by the president’s immigration agenda, which have been placed in stark relief this week by disturbing images of migrants living in squalor and inhumane conditions. An Associated Press photograph that surfaced on Tuesday of the drowned bodies of a man and his toddler daughter lying face down on the banks of the Rio Grande further inflamed the debate.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California faced a mini-rebellion in her ranks over the aid measure, with many liberals and Hispanic lawmakers arguing that any bill that sent money to the agencies that have carried out Mr. Trump’s harsh immigration tactics would enable his agenda. Democratic leaders won over many of their reluctant colleagues by tacking on additional health and safety standards and requirements for children and adults held by the government, as well as time limits for holding unaccompanied minors.

Still, four Democrats voted no: Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. The lawmakers, all freshmen, have quickly made names for themselves as outspoken progressives willing to buck their party, often as a bloc.

CreditMichael A. McCoy for The New York Times

Republicans were almost uniformly opposed to the bill, which they said contained too many restrictions on the power of immigration agencies and inadequate funding. Only three sided with Democrats to support it: Representatives Will Hurd of Texas, whose district runs along the border; Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania; and Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey.

Even as Ms. Pelosi worked to quell the furor of outspoken liberals like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus sat down for lunch with Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff who was once a member of the conservative group on Capitol Hill, and the newly appointed Mr. Morgan, now the acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to lobby Mr. Mulvaney to oppose even the Senate’s version.

That aid package, which contains $4.6 billion, would impose many fewer restrictions on the administration, but it does include some constraints on both immigration agencies, such as a limitation on sharing with immigration authorities any information about people who step forward to take custody of unaccompanied migrant children.

In the House, the outcome of the vote remained uncertain until hours before, as leaders and members of the Appropriations Committee haggled over changes needed to win support.

Some liberals remained implacably opposed.

“I don’t slight my colleagues. I don’t think anybody’s making a bad decision here,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. “Whenever I have these tough votes, I have to check back in with my district to see how people back home feel, and there was almost universal opposition.”

Others reluctantly went along. Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington and a chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she had been persuaded after reaching an agreement on the House floor with Ms. Pelosi and others to include a provision that would require government contractors operating temporary shelters to meet strict standards of care within six months or lose their contract.

“I have tremendous apprehensions about doing so,” Ms. Jayapal said of her decision to support the package. “I am not doing so with a free heart. I am not doing so believing that this is going to solve the problems. I am doing so because I am willing in the name of these children to see if we can do something to improve those conditions at the border.”

[An exclusive from “The Weekly,” a new TV series from The New York Times, on FX and Hulu: Meet the youngest known child taken from his parents at the United States-Mexico border.]

The changes illustrated the power that members of the party’s liberal wing are now wielding to push legislation to the left. Some said they would not vote to send one cent to the agencies that have carried out the president’s harsh immigration policies, even with strings attached to rein in those policies and even if the package is intended to help vulnerable women and children living in badly overcrowded, squalid shelters.

Efforts to meet liberal demands only bolstered House Republican and White House opposition to a spending bill that Mr. Trump initially requested. But they succeeded in getting the measure through the House, sparing Democrats an embarrassing and politically damaging floor defeat.

“I’d hoped this would provide an opportunity to work together in a bipartisan manner,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the House Rules Committee. “Instead, this bill tacked further to the left, to satisfy the liberals in the Democratic caucus, who are unwilling to do anything that meets President Trump’s request.”

During a closed-door meeting of House Democrats on Tuesday morning at their campaign headquarters near the Capitol, Ms. Pelosi made an impassioned plea for the bill, arguing that it would send a signal to the world that Democrats want to help suffering children at the border, according to a senior Democratic aide who described her remarks on the condition of anonymity. Ms. Pelosi also warned that allowing their divisions over the measure to sink it would play into the president’s hands.


CreditMichael A. McCoy for The New York Times

“The president would love for this bill to go down today,” Ms. Pelosi told Democrats, according to the aide. “A vote against this bill is a vote for Donald Trump and his inhumane, outside-the-circle-of-civilized attitude toward the children.”

Later, she repeated to reporters a point she had made to lawmakers behind closed doors, saying that the bill was a spending measure, not a policy plan.

“This isn’t an immigration bill,” Ms. Pelosi said. “It’s an appropriations bill to meet the needs of the children.”

Critics of the package had huddled with Ms. Pelosi on Monday night in her Capitol office to air their complaints, and some emerged saying changes would be needed to garner their support. Leaders met into the night to discuss those modifications and came up with a handful that they planned to add to the bill before it reached the floor on Tuesday night.

Democrats ultimately added language that would require Customs and Border Protection to establish plans and protocols to deliver medical care, improve nutrition and hygiene, and train personnel to ensure the health and safety of children and adults in custody. Another provision would ask the secretary of health and human services to specify which requirements are being temporarily waived to deal with a sudden influx of migrants. That amendment would limit the detention-center stay of any unaccompanied child to 90 days unless written notification is submitted to Congress attesting that no other facilities are available.

Democrats also attached requirements for translators at Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Senate Republicans and Democrats came together last week to draft a $4.6 billion version of the humanitarian aid package that also includes limitations on the use of the funds and several other conditions.

With House Republicans almost uniformly opposed to the stricter House measure, the fate of the entire effort remains uncertain.

Ms. Pelosi had argued that to give the House leverage in any such negotiation with the Senate, Democrats had to show the broadest possible support for the bill. But the nearly party-line vote only underlined the partisan split over the bill.

“I wish we could pass ours and see it go from there,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, who forged the bipartisan deal with Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the Republican chairman of the panel. “That’s an easy way out for everybody — just pass that.”

That bill faced obstacles as well. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, wants a vote on language that would require that the emergency aid bill be paid for by cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. And Republicans fear that allowing one would give Democrats the opportunity to propose their own modifications, such as language to restore development aid to Central American countries that Mr. Trump has revoked, according to a senior leadership aide who detailed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity.

Still, Mr. Shelby said he was optimistic about the prospects for the measure.

“I believe we’ll pass it before the week’s out,” he said.

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Graphic photo of drowned father and daughter stirs volatile immigration debate – USA TODAY


As Congress works to come up with a solution to pass emergency funding for migrants, demonstrators briefly rallied on Capitol Hill against the funding of deportations and, what they call, mass detention facilities. (June 25) AP

Editor’s note: This story includes disturbing photos and graphic details.

A harrowing photo of a migrant father and his 23-month-old daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande river in Mexico has renewed outrage over the immigration debate — and sparked debate over the graphic nature of the photo itself.

The image, taken by journalist Julia Le Duc and showing Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter Valeria deceased and face down on a muddy riverbank, has sparked visceral responses on social media.

The Associated Press released the photo for use by all of its member press organizations on Tuesday, and over 650 people tweeted responses within hours of publication.

Some people were furious over the graphic nature of the photo. Others were incensed over U.S. immigration policy that they say is allowing the tragedy to coldly unfold. Others expressed anger that the public is not doing enough to help families who are fleeing violence and poverty.

The bodies were discovered on Monday. The father’s black shirt is seen hiked up to his chest with the girl’s head tucked inside. Her arm was draped around his neck, suggesting she clung to him in her final moments.

According to Le Duc’s reporting for the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, Ramírez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador was unable to present themselves to U.S. authorities and request asylum, swam across the river on Sunday with his daughter. 

He set her on the U.S. bank of the river and started back for his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, but seeing him move away the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them away.

USA TODAY has not been able to independently confirm the account. Le Duc told the AP that the account was based on remarks by Ávalos to police at the scene.

Details of the incident were confirmed Tuesday by a Tamaulipas government official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, and by Martínez’s mother in El Salvador, Rosa Ramírez, who spoke with her daughter-in-law by phone afterward.

“When the girl jumped in is when he tried to reach her, but when he tried to grab the girl, he went in further … and he couldn’t get out,” Ramírez told the AP. “He put her in his shirt, and I imagine he told himself, ‘I’ve come this far’ and decided to go with her.”

Inside the immigration debate: Here are the 10 key immigration issues presidential candidates face on the campaign trail

A total of 283 migrant deaths were recorded last year; the toll so far this year has not been released.

In recent weeks alone, two babies, a toddler and a woman were found dead on Sunday, overcome by the sweltering heat; elsewhere three children and an adult from Honduras died in April after their raft capsized on the Rio Grande; and a 6-year-old from India was found dead earlier this month in Arizona, where temperatures routinely soar well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Very regrettable that this would happen,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday in response to a question about the photograph. “We have always denounced that as there is more rejection in the United States, there are people who lose their lives in the desert or crossing” the river.

There was no immediate comment from the White House.

The photo comes amid increasing tension over the immigration debate. Also Tuesday, the acting head of the Customs and Border Protection agency, John Sanders, resigned amid reports of migrant children at the border being held in unsafe and filthy conditions.

The resignation coincides with calls for immigration reform amid the treatment of detained migrant kids after lawyers reported some of the older children were caring for toddlers at a facility in Clint, Texas, and that they lacked adequate food, water and sanitation.

Contributing: Mabinty Quarshie, USA TODAY; The Associated Press


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To win on immigration, Trump must address both its security and humanitarian crises – Washington Examiner

As Congress continues its gridlock over immigration, the humanitarian crisis at the southern border continues to deteriorate.

Lawyers who visited an overcrowded border station in Clint, Texas, earlier this month said they were met with a “chaotic scene of sickness and filth” where “hundreds of young people who have recently crossed the border are being held,” according to the New York Times. Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul echoed the lawyers’ concerns and said his state’s immigration detention centers are in the “worst” conditions he’s ever seen, as did Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, who told the Washington Examiner Monday that the border crisis has “never been worse than it is today.”

But Congress has yet to act, and the Trump administration continues to sit and wait patiently for its legislative counterparts to do their jobs.

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence said the health and safety crises at the border are “heartbreaking” but deflected blame to congressional Democrats.

“Of course we do,” Pence said when asked whether the administration believes migrant children should have access to soap, toothbrushes, and other basic amenities. “My point is that it’s all a part of the appropriations process. Congress needs to provide additional support to deal with the crisis at our southern border.”

Pence is right: Additional funds are necessary to substantially improve migrant detention centers. It’s a shame congressional Democrats, who tout their commitment to migrants and their well-being, refuse to work with Republicans and compromise on a deal. But there are steps the administration can and should take to aid migrants at the border while it addresses the “root causes” of migration.

“The president and the administration can be doing more,” Roy told the Washington Examiner, noting that border security is primarily the executive branch’s responsibility. “The executive branch needs to get busy under our current laws.”

Worsening conditions at detention centers is one of many symptoms attributable to the massive influx of migrants seeking asylum. To reduce and fix the symptoms, the overwhelmed judicial system responsible for asylum hearings must be unclogged, and border agents must receive more financial and physical assistance. This, of course, depends on Congress. With that said, the absence of a permanent solution doesn’t negate the responsibility and ability to do what we can to alleviate what both political parties have admitted is a severe humanitarian crisis.

Trump was willing to declare a national emergency to secure funding for his border wall. Though the declaration was arguably an unnecessary overreach of executive power, it showed how far the president was willing to go for an issue he’s made his own. This commitment shouldn’t stop at border security.

Roy said that a few temporary solutions to ease the burgeoning crisis include giving border control officers the authority to quickly make decisions about “credible fear” claims, or initial claims from asylum-seeking migrants that must demonstrate a “well-founded fear of persecution,” according to the Department of Homeland Security. Giving Border Patrol additional authority would expedite the asylum process and ease the backlogged coffers of immigration judges, Roy said.

It seems Trump knows this, if his recent compromise with House Democrats on a border supplemental bill, which will provide funding for food, shelter, clothing, medical care, legal assistance, etc., is any indication.

To make immigration a winning issue, Trump must own both its security and humanitarian aspects. As it stands, Democrats largely ignore the security crisis and Republicans severely downplay its humanitarian toll. Caught up in their partisan bickering, both parties fail to understand the significance of immigration: Their neglect of the other side’s concerns is proof of that. If this cycle continues, neither side will achieve a permanent solution.

By acknowledging the humanity of the migrants seeking asylum while maintaining pressure on congressional Democrats to pull their weight and advocating for enhanced security, Trump might just unite both sides under a coherent policy he can carry into 2020. But that depends on him.

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Immigration Policy: Bordering on Madness – National Review

Eduardo, a three-year-old boy from Honduras, looks at his father after migrants illegally crossed into the U.S. from Mexico in Penitas, Texas, November 7, 2018. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

The U.S. is lousy at excluding illegal immigrants — and at treating them humanely once they’re here.

If this is the way President Trump treats his prisoners, he doesn’t deserve to have any.

More than 350 children have been removed from a holding facility in Texas designed to hold about 120. The children were filthy, many of them sick, many of them hungry, with inadequate hygiene and care. Children seven and eight years old were looking after infants. The children had been held for weeks in contravention of the law, under which they may be held for no more than 72 hours.

“Don’t blame us!” says the Border Patrol. “The Department of Health and Human Services is supposed to be looking after those kids.” HHS in turn pleads poverty: “Operating under a deficiency,” it says. No room at the inn.

The United States is not good at incarceration — strange, given that we get so much practice at it. Whether it is roasting homeless veterans to death in Rikers Island or the systematic rape and abuse that characterizes our prison system, Americans are among the world’s most incompetent and dangerous jailers.

Part of that is the familiar deficiency of American public administration — American prisons are what happen when you create a hermetically sealed society with the DMV lady as dictator-for-life — and part of that is our sick culture: We view rape and abuse as a motivating, and at least wincingly tolerated, part of the penitential mix. We make feature-length comedy films that consist of little more than prison-rape jokes. We think the answer to terrorism is electing the guy who promises to be “very hard on the families.”

And very hard on the families is what we are.

The problem of illegal immigration is itself the result of massive administrative failure in the United States. By systematically failing — and refusing — to enforce our own immigration laws, we have created the international equivalent of what the tort lawyers call an “attractive nuisance.” There are jobs, homes, support, and (in spite of the law) benefits to be had in the United States, with relatively little prospect of serious consequences for those who are caught. If you are a poor Guatemalan without much in the way of economic and social prospects, illegal immigration to the United States is a perfectly rational choice. Guatemala has its own deficiencies, to be sure, but the situation here is Washington’s creation, not Guatemala City’s.

Rather than insisting that the government do its job and secure the borders, Americans have since the Reagan amnesty been content to watch the ideological–social pendulum swing remorselessly back and forth — Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump — each of the two major tribes celebrating when its man takes the conch and lamenting when it passes to the other side, each tribe sure that this is the variable that matters to our national peace, prosperity, and purpose. American politics is Lord of the Flies without the boyish vigor.

Meanwhile, nothing of substance happens on illegal immigration, and on many other issues.

And so rather than dealing with the problem proactively, like a nation of 325 million or so free and self-governing citizens of a republic, many of them grown adults, we attempt to use the same anemic and fruitless methods that failed to address the problem in the first place to deal with it retroactively — with the inhumane results we see before us.

Of course there is much to criticize on the other side of the border, starting with the cynical “recycling” of children, whom illegal immigrants use, with the quiet encouragement of their home governments, as human shields. But we cannot govern Mexico for the Mexicans or Guatemala for the Guatemalans. We can only make available such help as we have to offer. Still, we can and must be responsible for our own practices, beginning with our own law enforcement.

The problem is not the so-called child-separation policy per se. Separating children from their parents is an inevitable consequence of enforcing not only immigration law but many other laws as well. The problem is our inability — and maybe our vindictive unwillingness — to see to it that our procedures are administered and implemented decently and humanely — and effectively, which is of consequence for the other two criteria. That means ensuring that the preventative measures are enforced in a way that is actually preventative. Instead, we have opened the floodgates and then been surprised by the flood. That is foolish and counterproductive.

It is also, in practice, indecent.

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