Saturday, June 23, 2018

How To Support Families at the Border and Abolish ICE!

Friends have been in touch recently, moved by the horrific family separations at the US/Mexican border, to see how they can support the children and families being traumatized by this new policy. This current situation – whether it’s family separation or family detention – is inhumane and inexcusable. And also U.S. immigration policy and practice has been a complete nightmare for a long time. Mass detention and deportations, sexual abuse and death at the hands of those “just doing their job” at the border and in detention facilities, corporations profiting off of putting people in cages and politicians pushing to build more facilities and fill every bed. Border patrol destroying life-saving humanitarian aid supplies like water placed in the desert by volunteers, some of whom are facing federal charges for working to ease suffering and prevent deaths that are very much intentionally orchestrated by government policy. And on and on… Many are feeling a sense of urgency and it’s important to gather that collective energy and channel it into action. Also, the situation is ongoing – it’s not a matter of changing one policy or making the system a tiny bit less horrible. Immediate change is important, and also we need *sustained collective action*

When folks ask what they can do now, my first thought is *Support the Groups That Have Been Doing This Work* There are organizations all over that are doing crucial work, both locally and beyond borders: Gathering community support thru letters and petitions and raising bail money to get neighbors and loved ones out of detention, providing legal advocacy and translation, organizing to become sanctuary communities and for Fair and Impartial Policing Policies that stop local and state law enforcement from working with and as federal immigration agents, rallying to get trans people out of detention where they are particularly vulnerable, doing humanitarian aid work and search and rescue missions in the borderlands, border communities resisting checkpoints and working to end militarization and harassment, and on and on. People are coming together to raise awareness and co-create brilliant strategies of community response to what’s happening locally and beyond. Whatever added crises that the powers-that-be cause on top of the everyday crises impacts all these groups and their efforts.

I’m listing some ways that people can support ongoing justice work. Please add more suggestions, resources, and events in the comments! Thank you.

First Day of No School Rally: Stopping Family Separation Now Rally, Mon June 25th 6-7:30pm, Vermont State House. 
Families Belong Together Rally, Sat June 30th In D.C. and around the country 

It can be really difficult to understand the many layers of policies and lived experiences and constant changes with immigration. There are many people and groups raising awareness about immigration policy, “prevention through deterrence” strategies, and mass detention and deportation thru a historical lens challenging racism and xenophobia. Some news sources to check out are Democracy Now! and AJ+/Al Jazeera. You can follow organizers and artists such as Alan Pelaez and Jennicet Eva Gutiérrez who are making connections between anti-black racism and xenophobia, transphobia and the criminalization of migration, and organizations such as No More Deaths/No Más Muertes, Mijente, Puente Human Rights Movement, Mariposas Sin Fronteras, Kino Border Initiative / Iniciativa Kino para la Frontera, and We Belong Together.

There are community organizations all over who are doing the important daily work of addressing the root causes of im/migration, mass detention, and deportation. Groups are resisting racial profiling and the targeting of immigrant communities, changing policy at the local, state, and national level, challenging white supremacy in our schools and creating/defending ethnic studies curriculum, and working in coalition with other organizations working for racial justice, trans liberation, indigenous rights, reproductive justice, disability justice, and more. What are you most drawn to? You can connect with groups in your local area, and you can also find groups that may be geographically far from you but that are in alignment with your values and resonate with what you are most passionate about. 

There are many ways to be involved. You can spread the word about events, write letters to the editor, provide transportation or food for events, get organizations you’re already connected with (your union, faith organization, craft group) to support grassroots community organizations. Attend events and panels organized by (or that at least include!) people of color-led organizations. Listen to what they are asking for in terms of support and help provide resources that are requested. You and/or organizations you’re connected with can become a sustaining member of a grassroots group, giving a monthly donation so that groups can focus less on fundraising and more on campaigns and long-term vision. With time, as you continue to show up and cultivate relationships based on solidarity, other ways of giving support may reveal themselves. 

Team up with others to understand how ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is impacting YOUR community. Who is ICE targeting in your area? How are people responding and organizing? How are people holding your local and state law enforcement accountable and ending racial profiling and collusion with immigration officials? Who is addressing systemic racism and xenophobia? In Vermont, you can support Migrant Justice / Justicia Migrante and Justice For All by showing up to rallies, joining them at the Statehouse to support important legislation, donating money or helping to organize a fundraiser. Following their Facebook pages and signing up on their email lists will help keep you in the loop. If you don’t know of any human rights/immigrant rights groups in your area, you can check out the ACLU in your region to see what projects they’re working on and who they’re collaborating with. And speak with your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers! Wherever you live, surely there are others around you who are outraged by all that is happening and teaming up can help support our collective mental and emotional health. It also builds courage so that we can speak out against racism and xenophobia whenever and wherever we encounter it. 

Simply reading the news, let alone directly being impacted by immigration policies and actively working for justice, can be heartbreaking. It’s important to take care of ourselves and each other however we can. The most basics of self-care/survival can easily fall by the wayside when we are feeling so much. Constantly facing dehumanizing words, images, and policies can take a toll on our health at many levels. We can support each other to stay hydrated, get some sleep, get some movement (physical, emotional, etc), eat (nourishing foods are great, and so are comfort foods or whatever we can eat/afford), take our herbs/medications and get to health appointments, share time together and/or have time for solitude, get outside or visit a garden or look at beautyfull images of flowers and trees, whatever we need to do.
You can also check out this In Case of (emotional) Emergency form  

Longer lists of groups to support here

For those who love plants and herbal remedies: For the past 10+ years I’ve made herbal remedies for those crossing the Sonoran Desert and those providing humanitarian aid in Sonora, Mexico and Arizona. If anyone would like to make a donation towards this project, I have left this fundraiser active here

Message from Free the Children Coalition “A lot of people are feeling helpless regarding the kidnapping of children and their internment. It seems that people are feeling the desperate situation requires desperate measures, and they are right. But PLEASE keep in mind the potential harm to those you are trying to help with measures that can cause unintended consequences for the vulnerable children and the immigrant community. Check your privilege. Shutting down an ICE facility, taking over a Congressional Office, demanding statements, identifying those who are profiting from these centers are all good options….” More here 

Here’s How You Can Help Fight Family Separation at the Border: Lawyers, translators, donations, protest. (article) "The best way to stop the horrific separation of children from their families at the border is to pay attention to what is happening to their parents…(who) are being criminally prosecuted, facing up to 20 years in prison for simply migrating. It is this criminal prosecution for “illegal entry” and “re-entry” by the Department of Justice that allows for the government to take children away, put them in cages, or send them to live with complete strangers, while their parents sit in private prisons.” 

The Racist History of Illegal Immigration (video – graphic images) here

…Please list more resources and organizations in the comments!

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