The Trump Administration's new policy of separating undocumented parents and children who attempt to enter the United States illegally has prompted outrage and condemnation across the world. More than 2,700 families have been split up thanks to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced in May that the government would begin criminally prosecuting every person who does not enter through an authorized port of entry, even asylum seekers.
The outrage is both on time and overdue, with 40,000 immigrant adults and children currently detained. Sessions and Trump hope that the policy will discourage prospective undocumented immigrants. While the new rules are distinctly brutal, the idea of deterring migrants from other countries has been a bipartisan endeavor, from 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to President Barack Obama, whose immigration legacy is far from perfect.
However, there has been an unprecedented surge of media interest thanks to stark audio and video footage of the facilities housing the children. America's history of internment camps and the white nationalism that has helped shape the Trump administration's policy and public persona are both in the spotlight.
But as helpless as one might feel at the sight of a child away from her parents in a cage, there are things we all can do.
Donate your time and money to legal organizations helping affected immigrants
One of the biggest assets for an undocumented immigrant at the border, minor or adult, is legal representation and assistance. And when a family is separated, the stakes become even higher than the life-or-death circumstances that often forces migrant parents to flee with their children. No matter how much you can afford to give, it can help make a real difference. Slate has an extensive list of organizations around the country, and we've highlighted a few below. If one is close to you, consider donating your time as well (immigration lawyers can sign up with the American Immigration Lawyers Association to volunteer to represent asylum seekers at hearings).
- RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) is based in five locations in Texas and provides free legal services and advocacy. A fundraiser for the organization has gone viral and raised nearly five million dollars in five days.
- Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) was at the center of a recent heartbreaking New Yorker profile spotlighting that whether by flaw or design, the United States government has no system in place to reunite the children it takes with their parents (as a former I.C.E. director tacitly admitted recently). KIND are at the frontlines of these efforts.
- The journey to the United States for an undocumented migrant is extremely dangerous. Pueblo Sin Fronteras helps build shelters in the desert and organize caravans (like the recent one that pissed off Trump) of refugees.
Join the national day of action on June 30
Black Lives Matter and March For Our Lives are two recent examples of how a mass protest movement can change boundaries of acceptable political discourse, shift the culture, and win hearts and minds. Activist group Families Belong Together is organizing dozens of protests in cities across the United States on June 30. You can find the one closest to you here, or get help on organizing a protest where you live.
Ask your representatives to support the Keep Families Together Act
The successful fight against Trumpcare showed that deadly Republican legislation could be defeated even when the party controls all three branches of government. With midterms approaching and Democrats in a position to make gains, Republican members of congress will be sensitive to overwhelming public pressure and moral outrage.
Find the phone numbers for your representatives here, contact them and ask them to support the Keep Families Together Act. It's a bill authored by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California that would prohibit children from being taken from their parents at the border except in clearly defined cases of abuse or trafficking.
Supporting politicians who take action – not just speak out – against the separations is just one option. Take a look at candidates and incumbents with ambitious agendas, like support for abolishing I.C.E. and enshrining protections for DACA recipients as well as all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.