Where To Volunteer To Help Migrant Children, If You Can't Stand Doing Nothing
In the wake of President Donald Trump's policy of separating children from their parents at the southwest border, there are now thousands of children who are in need of help. With the upset and outrage over this policy, many people want to know how to help. Here's where to volunteer to help migrant children, because they desperately need you.
The office of Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent out an April 6 memo announcing Trump's "zero-tolerance" policy regarding undocumented immigrants. Under the new policy policy, all adults crossing the border without documentation not at a checkpoint will be prosecuted, which means that any children traveling them will be taken away, as the children can't go through the adult criminal justice system. The children are processed under a separate system. Currently, there are over 2,000 migrant children who have been taken away from their parents as a result of Trump's policy, according to The New York Times.
The best case scenario is that these kids get reunited with their families immediately, but that's going to take a lot of effort from people willing to help out. Organizations like The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) and the ACLU are looking for donations to help pay the bond for the parents being kept in detention centers and to help with legal services for the children and the parents. But there are also a few places that are accepting volunteers, most of which require you to have some sort of legal background — but some don't. Here's where to help, if you can't stand doing nothing.
Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP)
ASAP, based in New York City, connects refugee families with emergency legal aid and community support. According to their site, they're mostly looking for volunteer attorneys, law students, and interpreters but their site also says they're also looking for "many others around the world." Though, it doesn't specify what other types of volunteers they need, they might need other positions filled that don't require a legal backgroun.
Currently, according to their call for volunteers, they are a little overwhelmed and not taking on anyone new right now, but their sign-up sheet is still open and they could call you up at any time.
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, the American Immigration Council, RAICES, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association have all joined forces to create CARA in response to the detention of migrant families.
According to their webpage, they are currently seeking volunteers for the two pro bono projects under their umbrella based out of Texas: the Dilley Pro Bono Project, which provides legal services to those being detained in the detention center in Dilley, Texas, and Karnes Pro Bono Project, for those in the Karnes Family Detention Center. Dilley is requesting attorneys, law students, and paralegals who have interest and experience in asylum work. They also recommend that their volunteers be fluent in Spanish or be willing to work with an interpreter. To volunteer, fill out their sign-up form.
CARA is also seeking help at the Karnes Family Detention Center an hour southeast of San Antonio, Texas. They're also looking for law students and paralegals who understand asylum law to give legal support to the children and mothers who are detained in the center. According to their site, experience is preferred, but not necessary. They will provide training. To volunteer, head to their site for more information and how to get in touch.
The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights
Here's one for everyone. The Chicago-based Young Center is seeking adults (21+) who want to become child advocates for unaccompanied immigrant children. Each person will be paired up with one child, and unlike the organizations above, it doesn't matter what profession or background you have. You don't have to be a lawyer or paralegal, but they are in need of child advocates who speak Spanish . They mention that they could always use volunteers who speak Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Bengali, Romanian and other languages as well.
The Center warns that it's a vigorous process in order to volunteer with them (it even includes a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background check), but it's worth it to help a child in need. You can complete this form if you're interested.
American Gateways has three Texas location: Austin, San Antonio, and Waco, and is committed to helping immigrants at all levels with legal services, education and advocacy. They are looking for volunteers in an array of professional fields. They always need lawyers and paralegals, but they are also looking for people to provide administrative services, psychological counseling, interpreter and translation services, and even forensic specialists. You can sign up through their non-attorney volunteer form or their attorney-volunteer form.
They are also accepting interns for fall.
While many of these spots are near the U.S.-Mexico border, if you can't volunteer there are other ways you can help. For instance, call your representatives and senators and tell them your thoughts on Trump's immigration policy. In addition, all these organizations could use donations. There are a lot of children and families who need help and that takes a lot of funding, so give if you can. Anything helps, after all.