What Can I Do? (Part 2)

Provide Humanitarian Aid on Both Sides of the Border

‍What can you do to help families being separated and detained at the border? Support legal defense, provide humanitarian aid, demand political action, and educate yourself and others on the bigger, systemic issues.

This is the second of four posts providing in depth suggestions on how to help address the immigration and refugee crisis at the southern border of the United States.

The vast majority of migrant families seeking refuge in the United States have endured untold horrors. Representing asylum seekers from Mexico and Central American, I listened to story after story of clients being beaten, raped, shot, and tortured. One young boy wiped tears from his eyes as he stared at the table and described seeing his father gunned down in the street on their way home from the store.

Map of primary migration routes through Mexico. Created by Amnesty International.

Reports of migrant experiences crossing through Mexico make it clear that trauma is compounded by trauma. On top of the difficulties of making a more than 2,000 mile journey, often on foot, nearly 70% of the migrant and refugee populations crossing through Mexico reported being victims of violence, including abduction, theft, extortion, torture, and rape. Experts estimate that 60-80% of women crossing the US’s southern border have been sexually assaulted. And for far too many, this violence continues after they cross the border. Widespread abuse and violence continues in immigration detention centers and beyond.

Those from Mexico who are denied refuge are driven across the border and dropped in the streets of Tijuana with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. On both sides of the border, there is a desperate need for humanitarian aid—providing food, shelter, safety, and medical attention to children and adults seeking asylum and those recently denied refuge.

Are you witnessing this humanitarian crisis and asking, What can I do? Here’s a list of organizations providing humanitarian aid along the southern border that need your donations and volunteer efforts.

My Top Five

Al Otro Lado is a Los Angeles-based organizations that, in addition to providing  free legal services to deportees, migrants, and refugees in Tijuana, Mexico, assisted dozens of families with cross-border custody issues, and helps connects family members residing in the United States to social, legal, medical, housing, and mental health services. 

Kino Border Initiative, based out of Nogales, AZ, provides aid such as meals, clothing and traveler assistance, educate the larger community, assist with political action, and gather data about migration. 

Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights is a human rights organization that advocates for the rights and best interests of unaccompanied immigrant children. Volunteer child advocates serve as a reliable, trustworthy, and professional presence for children who are in federal custody in coordination with attorneys and social workers. 

Pueblo Sin Fronteras is a collective of friends who decided to be in permanent solidarity with displaced peoples and provides humanitarian aid to migrants and refugees.

The Alitas Program serves migrant women and children who have left their home countries to escape violence and poverty. We provide care, short-term shelter and help to reunite with family members in the U.S. 

The Big List

Ajo Samaritans (Ajo, AZ) - The Ajo Samaritans are diverse individuals of conscience and faith united to relieve suffering and save lives of people crossing Arizona's desert.

ALDEA - The People's Justice Center (Reading, PA) - ALDEA - The People's Justice Center serves families detained in Berks Detention Center in PA. This organization is completely run by volunteer attorneys who have other full time jobs. The mission of Aldea is to provide a holistic approach to meeting the multi-faceted needs of our immigrant community members, including through legal, social, educational, and medical services. 

Alitas Program (Tuscon, AZ) - The Alitas Program serves migrant women and children who have left their home countries to escape violence and poverty. Care and short-term shelter are offered at Casa Alitas. Assistance is given in reuniting families in the U.S.

Border Angels (San Diego, CA) - Border Angels advocates for human rights, humane immigration reform, and social justice with a special focus on issues related to issues related to the US-Mexican border, provides immigration legal services in San Diego, and offers community education and awareness programs. 

Bronx Defenders (Bronx, NY) - The Bronx Defenders provide legal representation, advocacy, and social work support for many groups including immigrants. 

Center for Immigrant Advancement (CIMA) (Miami, FL) - Center for Immigrant Advancement (CIMA) advocates for the rights of immigrants at the state, local, and national level. The organization also offers immigration law counseling, as well as educational seminars in a variety of fields like financial literacy and social services in Florida.

Colibri Center for Human Rights (Tucson, AZ) - The Colibrí Center for Human Rights works with families, forensic scientists and humanitarians to end migrant death and related suffering on the U.S. and Mexico border. They are perhaps best known for their Missing Migrant Project, which connects medical examiner data for missing and unidentified migrants with families.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (International) - Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been providing medical and mental health care in mobile clinics along Mexico's migratory routes toward the United States.

El Alberque La Roca (Sahuarita, AZ) - El Alberque La Roca, better known as La Roca, is a migant shelter run by Iglesia Cristiana Roca Viva, a small Pentecostal church in Nogales, Sonora. It is open to all migrants and shelters many from Central America. Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans offer support to the shelter.

Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans (Sahuarita, AZ) - The Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans is an organization comprising people of conscience who offer humanitarian aid to migrants in the Arizona-Sonora borderlands.

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) (Silver Spring, MD; New York, NY) - The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) provides assistance to  people displaced by war, persecution, or violence, including refugees and immigrants of all backgrounds. 

Humane Borders (Tucson, AZ) - Humane Borders offers humanitarian assistance to those in need through the deployment of emergency water stations on routes known to be used by migrants coming north through our desert. Their sole mission is to take death out of the immigration equation.

Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) (Portland, OR) - Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) has been promoting the integration of refugees and immigrants, connecting existing communities and immigrants to foster a greater sense of community, and provides employment, training, legal services, language services, and much more.

Kino Border Initiative (Nogales, AZ) - The Kino Border Initiative provides aid such as meals, clothing and traveler assistance, educates the larger community, assists with political action, and gathers data about migration on both sides of the border.

Make the Road NY (MTR) (Brooklyn, NY) - Make the Road NY (MTR) provides legal and survival services, educates to empower community members, leads community organizing to tackle the systemic nature of discrimination, and issues policy prescriptions that provide the restorative justice necessary for lasting change. 

No More Deaths (Tucson, AZ; Phoenix, AZ; Flagstaff, AZ; Ajo, AZ; Arivaca, AZ; Denver, CO) - No More Deaths is a humanitarian organization based in southern Arizona dedicated to stepping up efforts to stop the deaths of migrants in the desert and to achieving the enactment of a set of faith-based principles of immigration reform.

Pueblo Sin Fronteras (San Diego, CA) - Pueblo Sin Fronteras is a collective of friends who decided to be in permanent solidarity with displaced peoples and provides humanitarian aid to migrants and refugees.

The Phoenix Restoration Project (Phoenix, AZ) - The Phoenix Restoration Project works with faith-based groups and people of conscience to build a network of mutual support with adults being detained. This includes coordinating detention visits and offering hospitality to men, women and youth just released from detention.

RIF Asylum Support (New York, NY) - RIF Asylum Support offers services for asylum seekers out of New York City. This includes legal consultation, food, general information, and even professional and residential networking opportunities. RIF offers asylum seekers a paid fellowship in urban agriculture, which entails a six month period of job readiness training, immersion in English, self-care, and community building. 

Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (Westminster, CO) - The Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) provides legal representation to immigrant children and their families who have been victims of abuse, neglect, abandonment, trafficking, and violence. They work with those detained in Aurora, Colorado, promote knowledge of legal rights, provide effective representation to ensure due process, work to improve detention conditions, and promote a more humane immigration system, including alternatives to detention.

Tucson Samaritans (Tuscon, AZ) - Tucson Samaritans are a diverse volunteer group, united in their desire to relieve suffering among migrants regardless of status and to honor human dignity.

If you know of organizations that should be on this list, please share them with us.

‍What can you do to help families being separated and detained at the border? Support legal defense, provide humanitarian aid, demand political action, and educate yourself and others on the bigger, systemic issues.

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Torchlight Legal is NOT a 501(c)3 charity and donations are NOT tax deductible.

TorchLight Legal Communications is launching a series of articles and media resources to provide clear, understandable information about what is happening at our southern border today, what it means for civil liberties, and what we can do. There will be resources for refugees and other immigrants, U.S.-based allies, and those seeking to become allies.

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