When images of Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter, Valeria were published recently, we were outraged. We were heartbroken.
The situation at the US-Mexico border is a crisis: a humanitarian crisis. Because of the government’s stronghold on the narrative — coupled with a militarized lack of transparency — without stories and images from brave whistleblowers, activists and community members, the world would never know the human price of a broken immigration system. We also know that sharing images like these can retraumatize communities who are already experiencing abuse. We shouldn’t need to rely on images to compel us to act.
While we often think the only way we can help is by sending money, there are actually many things we can do to address the larger issues at hand and challenge existing power structures.
What you can do:
From The New York Times, “Children Shouldn’t Be Dying at the Border, Here’s How You Can Help”:
- Report and document raids and arrests. The National Immigration Law Center has suggested reporting raids to local hotlines, such as United We Dream’s MigraWatch. Raices has urged that people verify any social media posts saying ICE has been spotted before sharing or retweeting them because false alarms could spread fear in immigrant communities. Check out this online verification training course from First Draft.
- Call Congress, your mayor and local representatives. Contact your members of Congress and tell them that you want impending raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be called off and detention conditions improved. The legal defense nonprofit Raices has provided a template and an online form that you can use to email your congressional representatives. You can also reach out to your local officials to ask that they initiate plans to help immigrant communities that are affected by the raids. This official government website has provided links to finding your city, county and town officials.
From YES! Magazine, “20 Ways You Can Help Immigrants Now”
- Helping pay immigrants’ bail is one of the fastest ways to help those who have been separated from their children, advocates say. Community bail funds can reuse the money paid if the person shows up for their court appearance.
- Host an asylum-seeker or refugee in your home, with a group like Room for Refugees.
- Join a pen pal or visitation program for detained immigrants, such as the ones run by First Friends of New Jersey and New York.
- If you work in education, create school curricula to help young people learn about human and, specifically, immigrant rights. Teaching Tolerance offers learning materials that facilitate the exploration of topics like race and immigration in the classroom and “explore the value of a diverse society.”
- Donate household goods. Organizations like the International Rescue Committee and U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants give people with the basic supplies they need to establish a new life in the U.S.
- If you can go to the border, you can join many others taking direct action there, from volunteer doctors and lawyers to those leaving water and supplies in the desert for immigrants.
- Explore how we got here. To learn more about how the U.S. government can respond to the border crisis and the root causes of migration and displacement in the Northern Triangle (the Central American countries. Honduras, San Salvador, and Guatemala feeding much of the migration), check out this blueprint from Human Rights First and other organizations. A few of the recommendations with the U.S. are “restoring timely and orderly” asylum processing at ports of entry and an increase in permitted refugees, immigration judges, and case management services for immigrants (such as the Family Case Management Program, which was terminated by the Trump administration in 2017).
Know your power. Check out our “Eyes on ICE” project, which includes the following resources:
- Checklist: Sharing Videos of Immigration Enforcement
- Filming Immigration Enforcement
- Watch this short animated film series, We Have Rights
Follow the money. Be aware of how companies like Amazon, Palantir and CoreCivic are profiting from deportations and detentions.
- Who’s Behind ICE? The Tech Companies Fueling Deportations (Mijente, National Immigration Project, Immigrant Defense Project)
- Immigration Detention: An American Business (WorthRises)
- Public Pensions Pour Millions Into Private Prison Companies (The Documented, The Guardian)
Support and donate to our partners at the US-Mexico border and beyond:
- RGV Equal Voice Network
- Border Network for Human Rights
- Angry Tias and Abuelas
- American Friends Services Committee San Diego
- Southern Border Communities Coalition
- New Sanctuary Coalition
Learn how to work with traumatic imagery, using this resource from the Dart Center.
Defund Hate. We want our tax dollars used to strengthen our communities by investing in education, housing, and health care programs that increase well-being, not bankroll xenophobic policies. Demand Congress #DefundHate and divest from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Take action today.
Illustration by Mariana Palaez / Photo derived from The Washington Post