Fight Family Separation: Volunteer Your Skills and Time
If you’re horrified by news of immigrant children being separated from their parents and thrown into cages, there are ways you can step up — especially if you have specialized skills.
There is a constant shortage of pro bono lawyers, paralegals and interpreters who work with immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border. If any of those specialities match your profile, you may want to consider volunteering your time. Immigrants are almost never guaranteed legal representation, meaning more often than not, they’re expected to fight their court cases on their own. (This is even true for young children).
Direct donations, of course, go a long way in making sure that immigrant families get the help they need. But it's worth emphasizing: Only the Trump administration can end these policies. Congress can pressure officials from the Department of Homeland Security, and the public can voice it's outrage. But in the meantime, these legal and humanitarian groups are the only ones able to have a real impact by helping one immigrant at a time.
Legal groups need volunteer attorneys, paralegals and interpreters
The Texas Civil Rights Project is seeking volunteers at five different locations along the border to help interview families. At this time, they are only accepting volunteers with legal backgrounds or those who are fluent in either Spanish, Q’eqchi’, Mam, or K'iche.
Human Rights First, a national organization based in Houston, pairs trained immigration lawyers with asylum-seekers who are in need of pro bono legal aid. They also have programs for volunteer interpreters, law student interns and former refugees. Medical and mental health professionals are also encouraged to volunteer their skills and time to help clients who have suffered from significant trauma.
The Florence Project, based in Arizona, helps provide legal and social services for immigrant families intercepted at the border.
Raices has six locations in Texas that provide either free or low-cost legal aid and support to immigrants and asylum-seekers. Their latest campaign, called The Leaf Project, advocates for universal legal representation to all unaccompanied minors who arrive at the border. Raices Texas is also accepting volunteers — sign up here.
Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley has a temporary shelter where immigrant families can find warm meals, clean showers, fresh clothes and basic supplies. If you live in the area, you can volunteer at the shelter by helping sort donations and welcoming new families as they arrive. Catholic Charities accepts monetary donations directly as well as the following supplies:
- Toiletries for men and women (deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, etc)
- Shoes (sandals, tennis shoes, loafers, etc) for men, women, children and infants of all sizes
- Clothes (pants, t-shirts, blouses, underclothing, etc) for children and adults of all sizes
- Baby supplies for toddlers (Pampers, baby wipes, baby bottles, etc.)
- Sealed snack food (granola bars, chips, peanut butter & cheese crackers, etc)
- Gift cards to purchase food items
- Phone cards
- Plastic bags for families to pack sandwiches, snacks, and water for their trip.
Kids in Need of Defense specializes in providing legal aid to children who would otherwise be forced to represent themselves in immigration court.