While the President now seems poised to deliver some sort of executive amnesty, his handling of the child migrants at the border does not inspire any confidence. Government officials estimate that the numbers of child migrants crossing the border could grow to 90,000 by the end of September.
These children, many of whom have journeyed to the U.S. hoping to reunite with family, are being held in numerous southwestern detention facilities, in inhuman conditions, while awaiting trials to determine their fates. Most of them have no legal representation, and have to defend themselves against a trained government prosecutor in immigration court.
Whereas House Republicans want to do nothing but deport people, the Obama Administration is reviving Bush-era laws to deny bond to mothers and children by deeming them as national security threats. The children at the border–most of whom are Central American–are refugees. They have survived many horrors to make this journey to the United States, and the last thing they need is deportation to places where they may not survive.
Along with my colleagues, I have prepared a list of things we can do to help the unaccompanied minors or child refugees at the border. This list should not be construed as an endorsement of any of these organizations or their missions. It is purely intended as a resource. Additions are welcome.
RAICES Texas provides free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families and refugees in Central and South Texas.
Southwest Key Programs aspires to reunify the unaccompanied immigrant children with their families while providing shelter and services in a nurturing and therapeutic environment. You can donate to them here.
IES, Inc. currently operates three Licensed Child Care Programs to provide short-term emergency shelter and foster care for unaccompanied alien children (UAC). You can learn more about them here.
Kids In Need of Defense provides children with representation in representation in legal proceedings. You can donate here.
Casa Juan Diego is a Catholic based organization in Houston that has been assisting children. They need as much materials as they can.
Material donations have reached capacity for Central American Refugee relief efforts at the Food Bank of Rio Grande Valley, but they are still accepting monetary donations and volunteers.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas has provided a ton of support for migrants over the summer and is also accepting donations.
Not all the children are landing up in Texas. The Border Angels and San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium is in dire need of materials and volunteers to help with the children coming through San Diego.
Fostering a child is a large time commitment, and not to be done lightly. Potential foster parents have to be certified before they can take in children. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service are working with foster agencies around the country. You can contact them here. RST Dallas offers resettlement services to incoming refugees. 1000 Kids for Iowa has rolled out the welcome carpet for the children, to enable Iowans to foster the children.
Vice President Joe Biden is requesting that lawyers and law firms step up to represent kids pro-bono. While the Congress and the Obama Administration should have allocated resources for this, the ball is in our court. A large number of children crossing the border appear to be eligible for legal status through asylum and/or Special Juvenile Immigrant Status (SIJS), which could give them a pathway to U.S. citizenship. These children need strong advocates to present their claim in an adversarial system that is set against them.
Attorneys who want and can represent the children should contact Texas area organizations such as Pro-Bar, Catholic Charities, Dallas Hispanic Bar Association, Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, Annunciation House in El Paso, and Safe Passage Project in New York.
If you are in the Metro D.C. area and need pro-bono support for these children, please contact me here.