Children Crying at the Border

President Donald Trump announced a “zero tolerance” immigration policy on May 7th. This new law has displaced thousands of families separating them at the border. If you’re like me you’ve seen the stories on the news—children crying, agents pulling mother’s away while breastfeeding, and fathers looking helpless not knowing what to do.

Honestly, I am dismayed by what’s going on at the border. I can’t get the image of children held in less-than-hospitable conditions in detention facilities out of my head. Many of us want to help, but when issues like this capture national attention and demand immediate action, it can be hard to know what to do to make a difference. We know that leaders turn moments into movements. If you have expertise on the issue the best thing you can do is to step up and lead, but for those of us who aren’t experts, the biggest way to make an impact is to help amplify the movement. Read on for ways you can help and what organizations to support (and these recommendations are from “the boots on the ground”—volunteer attorneys).

What Can You Do Right NOW to Help

Here are some ways you can make a difference:

  • Donate money. These days I think a lot of us are suffering from donor fatigue because there are so many causes and people who need help urgently, but truly, one of the biggest needs of any movement is funding. Many organizations are encouraging people to donate money to help parents make bail. It’s also one of the fastest ways to reunite families, so consider donating to community bond funds. Bail for these parents is prohibitively expensive, ranging from $1,500 to as much as $80,000.
  • Get the lay of the land. What organizations are leading the movement? What resources do you have that can help them? If it’s not money, maybe it’s donating your time. If you’re a photographer or a writer, how might these organizations benefit from your unique skill set? Do you speak Spanish or another language and can translate for many of these families? Read on for recommendations about what organizations to support…
  • Consider non-traditional ways to help. For the people in the thick of the struggle, the work is grueling and unrelenting. Many of them end up running on empty. You can give those folks the fuel they need to keep going, whether that’s a cup of coffee, dinner, or an encouraging message. Trust me, some TLC goes a long way!

Since I live in Austin, Texas, just 5 hours from McAllen, Texas, home to one of the largest immigration processing centers in the U.S., I also wanted to highlight the work of a couple people in my community who are lending their time and expertise to the fight to keep families together.  They will be the boots on the ground, and they have a good sense of what organizations are on the frontlines and how you can support them.

Leaders Amplifying the Movement

Elizabeth Hadley is an attorney specializing in government law and policy litigation. When the Austin Bar Association put out the call for lawyers to work pro bono to help these families, Elizabeth immediately stepped up and, along with hundreds of other Austin-area lawyers, received training on immigration law and hearings so she can assist these families with credible fear interviews. Each volunteer will be paired with a mentor who focuses on immigration law.

Pooja Sethi is an immigration attorney who, like Elizabeth, is volunteering her time and expertise. She created a nonprofit law firm called “Immigration for All,” which will provide pro bono legal representation for migrants detained at the border. And this week on behalf of the Southern Poverty Law Center she’ll spend a week at a detention center to assist migrant families.

Here are a couple of the organizations that Elizabeth and Pooja recommend:

Tahirih Justice Center;

American Gateways(this is the organization the Austin Bar Association is partnering with in Texas);

KIND which stands for Kids in Need of Defense;


Southern Poverty Law Center.

Keep an eye out to my blog because I’ll be talking with Elizabeth and Pooja again to fill you in on the movement to end family separation.

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