A few weeks ago, lawyers entered a border station in Clint, Texas to check on hundreds of migrant children. They exited bearing horrifying accounts of the filth, fear and trauma.
As part of a lawsuit settlement in 1997, there are strict standards for safe and sanitary conditions within detention centers and for the treatment and release of minors taken into federal custody after crossing the border illegally. This settlement is what allowed the group of lawyers to access the station.
In addition to observing the conditions, which were so poor that guards wore face masks with their armed uniforms to protect themselves, the lawyers spoke to 60 young children.
Through their accounts, they learned that the children, if separated from their families, were being cared for by other children. Also, contagious diseases like the flu have been rampant for everyone, including numerous infants and a pregnant teenager. Since December 2018, six migrant children have died in U.S. Custody.
After the accounts were released to the public, concerned citizens attempted to deliver donations to the border station. However, they were turned away due to the Antideficiency Act, which states that the government cannot accept goods and services without remuneration.
There is a sense of helplessness among citizens who want to help the abused migrant children. The current situation is distressing, but there are 4 ways to help prevent more obscene acts like this from occurring in the future.
1. Stay educated
For the treatment of migrant children to improve, society must be attentive about the issue. It’s easy to disassociate from an issue to protect oneself from feeling revolted by such cruel treatment.
Muster your strength, and use your passion as a light in the dark. Keep reading, listening and watching for updates on the issue. Some reliable news outlets that regularly post articles about pressing matters are NPR, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
2. Donate to organizations that fight for immigrant rights
Groups like Immigrant Families Together, Save the Children, United We Dream and The American Civil Liberties Union advocate nationwide to raise funds and spread awareness about the hardships immigrants face. You can donate and sign petitions on their websites.
Immigrant Justice Corps works to provide legal aid for immigrants, which is often the difference between remaining in the country and being deported. So far, they have helped over 49,000 people in the United States by allowing them due process of law, and they have a 93% success rate.
To help reunite immigrants that have been separated from their families, contributing to the cost of bail is always appreciated according to project director of the National Bail Fund Network, Pilar Weiss. For immigrants, bail can range from $1,500 to $80,500. Click the link to find a donation page for your state.
3. Call or message your local government, mayor and Congress members
Contact members of Congress to inform them of your opposition towards impending ICE raids and the poor conditions of detention centers and border stations. You can use this template and online form created by RAICES to email a message.
Here, you can figure out which members of Congress to send it to. You can also contact more local representatives by finding them through this government website and ask that they form plans to help immigrant communities affected by raids.
The maltreatment of immigrants will not improve overnight, but with continuous efforts, education and a push for political change, there is hope. Voting is the most important way to solve the problem. Vote for candidates who have a plan to create more humane border policies for the United States. You can view each Democratic presidential candidate’s views on immigration reform here.