Tyrrell: How you can help reunite immigrant families


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Border detention centers

Eileen Tyrrell

Within the last few weeks, the country has been shocked by reports detailing the inhumane conditions of the overcrowded Customs & Border Patrol (CPB) stations at our border. Overwhelmed by an influx of migrants crossing in search of asylum — which is a protected right — as well as illegally, these stations house adult migrants in “standing-room-only conditions for days or weeks” and children in conditions described by one doctor as akin to “torture facilities.” 

Regardless of your stance on illegal immigration, let it be clear that it is fully legal to seek asylum in the United States. Regardless of their parents’ choices, the children being brought across the border are completely innocent and have no control over their situation. What we are doing to them is unforgivable. Here’s what you can do to help. 

1. You can donate. Families are separated at the border because of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy that treats illegal entry into America as a criminal case instead of a civil offense. While the adults are detained and awaiting trial or being deported, their children sit in brutal conditions in CBP detention camps. Many organizations provide legal service and pay for bonds to help reunite detained parents with their children. Such organizations include the ACLU, RAICES, Texas Civil Rights Project, Together Rising and the Florence Project. 

Of course, always do your research before donating to an organization or GoFundMe. Charity Navigator is a watchdog site that rates nonprofits and can give you a good indication how reliable and trustworthy an organization is..

2. Contact your representatives. Use this link to find your representatives and their contact information, and write to them with your concerns about what’s going on in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and CBP detention centers across the country. This link provides a template to urge representatives to shut down ICE raids across the country. Remember, your representatives represent the will of their constituents, including you. Your voice has power. 

3. You can protest. Research protests going on in cities near you, such as “Close the Camps!” protests happening nationwide Tuesday and the Iowans Against Border Cruelty protest Wednesday. Spread the word about what we can all do to help protect innocent children and asylum-seekers. Use your privilege as a citizen to protect undocumented immigrants around you. The actions that ICE, CBP and the government of this country have taken against immigrants are monstrous and inhumane. No human is illegal. 

Warsan Shire put it best in his poem “Home” when he tells us: 

“You have to understand, 

No one puts their children in a boat 

Unless the water is safer than the land.” 

Let’s try for some compassion, America.