The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recently reported that 68.5-million persons worldwide have fled their home nations in search of asylum or stability. Violence in Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan has contributed staggering numbers to this issue, however, the situation truly is a global crisis. In June 2018, news media broke the story of the heartbreaking situation at the US-Mexico border as authorities and non-profit organizations struggled to cope with the thousands of undocumented children who had either arrived alone or had been separated from their guardians upon reaching the US-Mexico border crossing. The news coverage, which reached a fever pitch in early summer 2018, has largely quieted to a murmur as other new events unfold, vying for the world’s attention.
Despite the slowing of headlines, the situation of undocumented youth at the US-Mexico border continues to overwhelm the U.S. government and local community resources available.
How to support youth at the US-Mexico border
Working and volunteering with refugee relief organizations is challenging, but also increases global awareness and creates allies for human dignity. For those looking to gain experience in nonprofit advocacy or are simply passionate about immigration issues, several organizations dedicated to the preservation of these children’s rights and well-being offer various ways to get involved and help resolve issues at the US-Mexico border for some.
Refugee and Immigration Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES)
Refugee and Immigration Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). Texas-based nonprofit RAICES provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children, families, and refugees in Texas. In 2017, a staff of 130 lawyers and legal staff closed over 51,000 cases with no cost to the client.
Volunteer with RAICES Volunteers with an interest in marketing and social media campaigns are encouraged to get in touch to help spread awareness around this issue. Also, use the #YesAllKids and #FamiliesBelongTogether hashtags and the @raicestexas Twitter handle when discussing this issue on social media. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Work for RAICES Those local to Texas may consider taking on a greater role with RAICES as they are currently recruiting for a number of positions, such as Immigration Attorneys, HR Manager, and Legal Assistants.
Donate to RAICES If time is limited, a monetary donation will help support several funds RAICES administers. The Families Together Fund supports families together as they navigate the immigration system. RAICES provides legal representation and case management services to migrant families. The Legal Representation, Education, and Advocacy Fund (LEAF) provides unaccompanied children with representation as children with representation are much more likely to be successful in their case than children who go to court alone.
The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights
The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. The Young Center champions for the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children, with the end goal of changing the immigration system to that decision-makers are required to consider a child’s best interests when making their decisions.
Volunteer with the Young Center Volunteers serve as Child Advocates who spend time with and represent an unaccompanied immigrant child while he or she is subject to deportation proceedings. Volunteer positions are available in a number of U.S. metropolitan areas, such as Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C, and bilingual volunteers are especially in demand.
Work for The Young Center The Young Center operates in various cities throughout the U.S. and is currently recruiting for a number of positions, such as Case Support Specialists, Staff Attorneys, and Social Workers.
Donate to The Young Center Monetary donations are always appreciated. The Young Center puts your dollars to work providing Child Advocates for immigrant children who will represent their best interests.
The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP)
The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) ASAP prevents wrongful deportations by providing aid to refugee families fleeing violence. By employing technology, ASAP is able to connect thousands of formally detained refugees across the country and contact expert attorneys for advice.
Volunteer with ASAP ASAP employs a network of hundreds of volunteers nationally. However, due to their high workload at the moment, ASAP is not currently onboarding new volunteers. Those interested in being considered for future volunteer opportunities can sign up here.
Work for ASAP Recruitment is currently ongoing for Immigration Staff Attorney and Legal Internship positions. Participants in New York, Chicago, or Washington, DC are encouraged to apply, but applicants from anywhere in the country will be considered.
Donate to ASAP Donations directly support the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project’s work providing refugee families access to legal aid. Donations can be made on a one-time or recurring basis. Or get your friends and family involved by throwing a fundraiser in support of ASAP and defend refugee families!
Immigration issues are hotly discussed political discourse. However, beyond the talking heads and newspaper headlines are the lives of thousands of vulnerable people, in particular, children trying to navigate the confusing and unfamiliar processes of immigration, deportation, and asylum.
Immigration advocacy goes beyond political boundaries and is the responsibility of anyone who believes in protecting the rights and dignity of the world’s most vulnerable citizens.
Learn more about what it’s like to be a refugee today and find out how to contribute to GoAbroad projects creating more educational opportunities for children, by visiting our Projects page.
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Claire lives in the Washington, DC-area. When she’s not creating content for her clients and personal travel blog, Direct from the District, you might find her plotting new adventures with her husband and three rescue dogs.