TAKING ACTION ON FAMILY SEPARATION
From the Desk of Rabbi Joy Levitt
As we hear a child cry in our lobby and see them grab tight to a parent or caregiver because they are sad to see them go for even a few hours, we are reminded of our own privilege and how incomprehensible it is to imagine children being taken indefinitely from their parents on the southwest border. This is truly a moral emergency and we must respond quickly and consistently. The Executive Order issued on Wednesday afternoon still calls for the indefinite detention of families at the border, and silence is not an option. Somehow we must find whatever ways we can to cry louder and do more.
The answers are not clear and the changes we expect will not begin happening quickly. Until the inhumane treatment of families ends completely at the border, we must activate. Here are some of the ways in which we at the JCC are engaging around this crisis as a community and ways in which you can also activate individually:
Call your representative right now to demand that they vote no on the anti-immigrant bill which will continue separating families and turbocharge immigration enforcement.
Write letters to your representatives in Congress, along with the President, Attorney General, and Secretary of Homeland Security, calling on them to immediately end the practice of family separation and to protect the rights of asylum seekers. (N.B.: This letter template was designed for the Reform community, but letters can be easily edited to reflect your own preferred identifiers or omit them entirely.)
Join Bend the Arc’s statement, We Declare a State of Moral Emergency (which the JCC has signed as an institutional partner) and sign up to receive their updates and calls to action on this issue.
Find a local service organization through Informed Immigrant’s national database and volunteer with one of the 1,200 organizations working toward justice for migrants in the U.S..
If you are an attorney or have relevant language skills (e.g., Spanish or Meso-American indigenous languages), contact a local legal services provider to volunteer. If you have Meso-American indigenous language skills, you can also volunteer to translate remotely (by telephone) by contacting RAICES at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lawyers for Good Government at email@example.com .
Volunteer to serve as a Child Advocate here in New York by contacting The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights.
Reach out to companies and ask them to refuse to participate in or facilitate separating children from their parents. Follow Sleeping Giants on Facebook or Twitter, which is compiling information about companies that are profiting from family separation and the zero-tolerance border policy.
We also encourage you to get involved with one of these local volunteer opportunities:
Work With Council Member Mark Levine's Office
Sign up for various tasks to help refugee children who have been placed in New York City.
The English Speaking Union
Help newcomers to the United States gain fluency and confidence in conversational English by becoming a weekly volunteer tutor this fall.
First Friends of New Jersey and New York
Visit immigrant detainees to assure them that their dignity is respected and to facilitate a channel for contacting those outside of the detention system.
The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
Join one of the many efforts at HIAS, including: letter-writing, translation, and cultural orientation programs. Interested volunteers should register online.
Immigration Justice Campaign
Provide legal assistance to immigrants in NYC and throughout the country.
Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees / Afya Foundation
Sort and pack donated medical relief supplies that will be sent to refugees in need. Engage plans to have regular presence.
New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC
Accompany immigrants to their required periodic check-ins with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP). Sign up for upcoming accompaniment volunteer trainings by clicking here.
The St. Paul and St. Andrew Church
Help this Upper West Side church provide sanctuary for a woman and her young son. Sign up here to support the family with necessary tasks.
The Young Center for Immigrant and Children's Rights
Advocate on behalf of an individual unaccompanied immigrant child while he or she is subject to deportation proceedings. There is a particular need for Spanish speakers. Interested volunteers should complete this online form.
Support the urgent work of organizations serving migrants at the border, from providing basic human needs to representing immigrant children and adults in court. There are many organizations doing this work across the Southwest and in communities across the country where children and their parents are being held. Here are just a few:
- RAICES (the largest immigration nonprofit in Texas). Right now their website is overwhelmed, but there are direct working links to their two main fundraising drives:
- LEAF Project (Legal Representation, Education, and Advocacy), which provides legal representation to unaccompanied minors (and those reclassified as unaccompanied after being separated from their parents at the border); and
- #FREEourfamilies Family Reunification Bond Fund, which provides funds to pay for detainees' bond (which starts at $1,500 a person) so that they can be reunited quickly with their families.
- ActBlue Charities has aggregated donations to a select group of 14 leading immigrants' rights organizations under the umbrella Support Kids at the Border. When you donate, you can choose to split the funds evenly among the groups or to allocate differently to each.
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice is raising funds for Mijente, a national hub for Latinx and Chicanx organizing, which is currently organizing rapid response actions in Texas and California, in order to elevate the voices of political actors who are directly impacted by current immigration policies.
Send needed supplies to organizations working on the front lines, such as KINO Border Initiative. or the Humanitarian Respite Center run by Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, which maintains an Amazon Wish List of items they need..
READINGS AND RESOURCES
Here’s How You Can Help Fight Family Separation at the Border by Dahlia Lithwick and Margo Schlanger (Slate)
How Separating Immigrant Families Became U.S. Policy on The Daily podcast, June 19, 2018 (The New York Times)
For Children Taken from the Border to New York, a Maze of Agencies and Legal Hurdles from WNYC News, June 21, 2018
Separated Immigrant Families at the Border: Here’s a List of Organizations that are Mobilizing to Help them Nationwide (Texas Tribune)
Joint letter to AG Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen on family separation and zero-tolerance policies, signed by over 300 Jewish organizations
How to Talk to Young Children About What’s Happening to Families at the Border from Big City Moms
How to talk to Children About Difficult News from The American Psychological Association
How to Talk to Your Kids About Difficult World Events, by age from Common Sense Media