In light of the Trump administration’s endless crusade of anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies, it’s easy to feel defeated if we aren’t lawyers, Congresspeople, or activists located near the border. Although this administration makes us feel powerless, it’s important that we, as feminists, mobilize to amplify the work of the undocumented folks and immigrants who have been organizing for years to protect their communities and fight for their fundamental human rights.
Just last month, the ACLU reported that the Trump administration has separated close to 1,000 children from their parents at the U.S.–Mexico border in spite of the fact that U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the administration to curtail its family separation policy almost a year ago. Many of these separations are in contrary to the best interests of the child. Jennifer Nagda, the policy director of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, testified that “DHS officials with no child welfare expertise are making split-second decisions, and these decisions have traumatic, lifelong consequences for the children and their families.”
From the increase in workplace raids to the threats of local ICE raids, the Trump administration has made it abundantly clear that white supremacy, visible cruelty, and terror undergirds the enforcement of current U.S. immigration policy. In a series of tweets condemning migrants, Trump himself admitted that the cruelty is intentional. “If illegal immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detentions centers, just tell them not to come,” Trump wrote. “All problems solved!”
Three and a half weeks ago, I sat through Yazmin Juárez’s harrowing testimony as she described the gut-wrenching process of losing her toddler, Mariee, due to severe medical neglect and poor conditions in ICE facilities to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. I felt outraged as I heard the callous disregard for human lives by Republican members of the Subcommittee simply because they were brown migrants and not white citizens. I felt devastated as I heard each witness detail statistic after statistic on the harms inflicted by Customs and Border Protection and ICE on migrants. I felt exhausted because as a 20-year-old college student, I felt completely and utterly powerless in the face of this overwhelming humanitarian crisis.
However, we cannot remain silent. As feminists, we should actively recognize and use our privilege (especially if you are a white, U.S. citizen) to stop the humanitarian crisis that’s happening in our name. We should stand up against xenophobia, white supremacy, and racism, because feminism necessitates the equality of all people across all genders, races, and classes. And we should not only feel outraged, but we should take action.
Here are eight ways that you can stand in solidarity with immigrant communities and activists:
1. Disrupt ICE
If you see ICE in your neighborhood or community, stop and watch them. Take note of everything that they’re doing. If it’s safe for you, keep them occupied by asking for their name or their badge number. Actively take up their time by asking them questions or engaging them in a conversation. Document (via photos and videos) what ICE is doing.
If you see ICE agents on buses or trains, tell everyone on board that you don’t have to show identification. If you know how to say this in multiple languages, inform fellow passengers in those languages. If you don’t know how to say this in other languages, ask other people if they can translate for you. Walk up and down the bus or train, telling passengers that they don’t need to show their IDs.
Know the difference between a warrant issued by the DHS or ICE versus a warrant issued by a court and signed by a judge. Only a court/judge warrant grants ICE permission to enter someone’s home. If you see ICE agents going to door-to-door, go a couple of doors ahead and slip “know your rights” flyers under the doors. (The ACLU also has these resources in multiple languages.)
2. Share and Document Information About ICE
If you see ICE in your community, document their location and movement with specific and updated posts. Do not post something general such as “ICE seen in Houston” because that causes confusion and heightened fear. Instead, include the date, time, and exact location (using cross streets or unique landmarks) of where you saw ICE. Add details about the number of vehicles or agents, what they’re doing, and most importantly, update your post when they leave.
3. Reach Out to Your Elected Officials and Demand Action
Reach out to your elected officials at both their D.C and home offices. Your Congresspeople are elected to listen to you and your concerns. Discuss your feelings about the current immigration crisis—if they are unwilling to talk about it, take note, and organize to vote them out in the next election. If you’re not sure who your Representatives are, click here. If you want to find out how to contact your Senators, click here.
Unsure what to say? Here is a sample script you can follow:
As your constituent, I am extremely concerned and deeply saddened by the continuation of child separation, ICE raids that are terrorizing my community, and the treatment of migrants in detention camps at the border. These policies are detrimental to all American families.
We need to stop these policies motivated by xenophobia. ICE raids, family separation, and the horrendous treatment of migrants at our border are not the answer. None of these policies will deter immigration or migrants who are legally entitled to seek asylum. These policies only further divide our country and exacerbate the already-existing humanitarian crisis.
We do not want this to happen in our community or our country. As an elected official, you have the opportunity to take a stand against these injustices. Will you join me and my community to regulate ICE, stop the immigration raids, and end the horrific treatment of migrants at the border?
4. Help Fund Bail Bonds for Detained Migrants
Bail bond funds are reserves of money allocated to pay for immigrant’s bail so that detained migrants don’t have to have their lives disrupted before their court dates. Detained immigrants (including people arrested in ICE raids) sometimes are able to be released on a cash bond (similar to bail) while awaiting their court date for an asylum or immigration hearing. Unfortunately, there is no upper limit for immigration bonds; however, the median immigration bond fund is $4,250. Without the ability to pay a bond, asylum seekers, undocumented immigrants, and even lawful permanent residents are forced to remain in immigration detention.
5. End Collaboration Between ICE and Local Law Enforcement
Research to find out if your local law enforcement team partners with ICE. Local law enforcement collaborating with ICE leads to an increase in racial profiling, denies immigrants due process rights, and exacerbates levels of distrust between immigrant communities and law enforcement. In California, SB 54 was passed to prohibit local law enforcement from working with federal immigration authorities—challenge your mayor or other government leaders to end collaboration with ICE.
6. Donate Frequent-Flyer Miles
Both frequent-flyer miles and cash donations can cover taxes, fuel surcharges, and airport fees to reunite refugee families. If you have unused or extra airline miles, consider donating them to organizations such as Miles 4 Migrants and Lawyer Moms of America.
7. Protest Current Immigration Policies
You can protest immigration policies and current government actions by hosting and/or attending events. Families Belong Together organizes series of rallies and events all across the country. Check out the closest one nearest to you and show your support.
8. Donate Your Time and/or Money
Below is a list of organizations involved in immigration work at the Southern border and beyond. This list is certainly not exhaustive; however, we can stand in solidarity with these are organizations by amplifying their work and donating our time and/or money. Talk to activists within these organizations and ask what you can contribute based on the skills you already have: can you provide translation assistance? Are you a health care provider? Can you provide rides or other resources? Find out what the organization needs and ask how you can help fill in the gaps:
RAICES is a non-profit agency that provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children, families, and refugees based in Texas. RAICES lists many ways that you can get involved in volunteering such as providing transportation to individuals recently released from detention, submitting bond paperwork, and translating documents.
Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights protects the rights of immigrant children and advocates to protect their best interests. Young Center attorneys work with bilingual volunteers and provide guardian ad litems (child advocates) to work with children in immigration proceedings. The Young Center is in need of Child Advocates in Chicago, Houston, San Antonio, Harlingen, Phoenix, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington D.C. (you must be at least 21 years old). Make a donation to fund the Young Center’s work here.
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) protects unaccompanied children through legal services and public education and outreach in the U.S., Central America, and Mexico, and provides reintegration support for children returning to their home countries. KIND trains and mentors volunteers in translation services as well as recruits pro-bono attorneys. Donations fund “know your rights” trainings, outreach to migrant children, and training volunteer attorneys.
Border Angels provides free immigration services and consultations in Spanish and English, conducts migrant outreach, and provides alternative break and education programs to raise community awareness of issues surrounding undocumented migrants. Make a donation to fund Border Angels’ work here.
Movimento Cosecha fights for permanent protection, dignity, and respect for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. through direct action and economic non-cooperation. Make a donation to fund Movimento Cosecha’s work here.
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) is the leading civil rights voice of the Latinx community that works to protect and defend the rights of all Latinx people living in the U.S., headquartered in LA. Make a donation to fund MALDEF’s work here.
Black Alliance for Just Immigration for Just Immigration (BAJI) was formed to bring Black voices together to advocate against racism and systemic discrimination as Black immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America are often racially profiled and experience racial discrimination during the immigration process. Make a donation to fund BAJI’s work here.
Families for Freedom is a New York based multi-ethnic human rights organization founded by and for families facing and fighting deportation. They also seek to repeal anti-immigrant laws and build the power of immigrant communities. Make a donation to fund Families for Freedom’s work here.
Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project represents individuals who have arrived at the U.S.–Mexico border to seek asylum, works to connect formerly detained refugees, and magnifies the advocacy efforts of community members through litigation, press, and policy works. Make a donation to fund Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project’s work here.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) works to advance civil rights and educate the public, lawmakers, and the media on Asian Americans’ relationships to immigration. AAAJ focuses on fighting for a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., family reunification, due process rights, and fighting against anti-immigrant legislation. Make a donation to fund AAAJ’s work here.
United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led movement and community in the U.S. They have led campaigns to win protections for undocumented immigrants, defend against deportations, expand education access for immigrants, and defend justice for LGBTQ+ immigrants. Make a donation to fund United We Dream’s work here.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is the nation’s leading civil liberties advocate. Specifically, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project is dedicated to expanding the civil rights of immigrants and to combating public and private discrimination against immigrants. The ACLU has challenged “show me your papers” laws, family separation, and ICE and Border Patrol Fourth Amendment abuses. Visit the ACLU’s website to find an event near you where you can take action.