#WhereAreTheChildren: How to Help


UPDATED/ Since the news hit that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) admitted to losing nearly 1,500 children in their custody, social media has been inundated with furious citizens demanding to know what happened to the children. Here’s what we’ve learned, and what you can do about it.

What happened? 

One month ago, an official from DHS admitted under questioning in a congressional hearing that the agency could not account for nearly 1,500 unaccompanied minors who arrived at the border, nearly 19% of the minors in their custody.

Then on Monday, the news hit that the government is forcibly separating children from their families at the border.

Then yesterday, the ACLU released a report with horrifying details as to the abuses that children in custody at the border are being subjected to.

The outrage on social media has been festering but it blew over yesterday. #WhereAreTheChildren has been trending non-stop and people are desperate to make these issues widely known, and searching for ways to help.

How you can help

  1. Contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives. Their job is to conduct oversight of DHS–they must hold DHS accountable. Simply say, “I am outraged by how our government is treating children at the border. What is my Senator/Rep doing about this?” Find your Senators here. Find your Representative here. If you use 5 Calls to contact your reps, they have a script on their system for this issue already.
  2. The ACLU is gathering signatures to petition Kevin K. McAleenan, Commissioner of United States Customs and Border Protection to stop the government from abusing immigrant children. You can find the petition here.
  3. You can contact ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) directly. Write to them here or call them at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.
  4. NEW: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has recommended guidelines for human rights at international borders which you can read here. The reported actions our DHS is taking do not comply with these guidelines. You can contact the UN Office for Human Rights here.
  5. NEW: Amnesty International has been calling for an end to the U.S. policy of separating children at the border. Their call to action can be found at the end of this post here.
  6. NEW: Americans of Conscience has a list of 7 other U.S. officials who need to hear from us, plus a script to use. That list is here.
  7. DEVELOPING: There is a nascent effort to organize #WhereAreTheChildren marches for June 14. Check here for more information.

Being upset about this issue is not enough. Please take action today.

5/29 Update posted here with additional actions plus a new explainer.
6/15 Update posted here focusing on actions to #KeepFamiliesTogether & latest headlines

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74 replies

  1. Thank you great script! I’ve been following this about the children since it first appeared. I’ve cried been angry and frustrated… These are innocents…I even thought we might checkout the Hague Geneva Convention…will try to get info on that.

    • I’m glad you found this useful. If I find additional actions we can take in the coming days, I will update the post.

      • Could you provide a purely numeric phone number for DHS ICE? Many telephone keypads outside the US have no alphabetic markers on the keys, only numerals. Please also add the phone number for E. Scott Lloyd, the director of the Officse of Refugee Resettlement: 202-401-9246

      • 1-866-347-2423

      • also, a number that is not “800.”

        im a usa citizen living in panama and putting 001 in front does not help. thanks

    • Geneva Convention applies when countries are at war.

      UNHCR has several Conventions and Covenants, of which the US is signatory to 4 or 5. One of them is about the rights of children. I don’t know who can make formal complaints to the UNHCR about violations of these signed documents.

      • USA only one of two countries to not have ratified the convention for the rights of the child, unfortunately (and horrifically)

      • The United States USED to be one of two countries that had not ratified the Convention on Children’s Rights (US & Somalia). Then we were one of three once South Sudan was formed. But now THE US IS THE ONLY COUNTRY LEFT. Somalia & South Sudan both signed it early 2015. Check it out https://www.aclu.org/blog/human-rights/treaty-ratification/theres-only-one-country-hasnt-ratified-convention-childrens

      • Why can’t we ask the U. N. to come in and take over this massive human rights abuse and get the kids reunited with their families. The unites states has failed to do the most basic humanitarian behavior and has committed crimes against humanity. The U.N. Could make sure that we are complying with laws agreed upon in the Geneva Convention, although these are not POWs, they are seeking asylum from war zones and brutal regimes. We need the UN to come in immediately. Meanwhile, the GOP is describing living in cages as equivalent to “summer camp.” It doesn’t get much worse than that. This is a deeply shameful time in our history.

  2. Do you think that they are being detained at a FEMA camp? There is one about 30 miles from Nogales.

  3. Wherearethechildren.org is organizing marches. Just set up.

    I’m replying to all posts about this with your blog link, to have a central resource list.

  4. Thank you for this. More information and ways to act are very helpful. What about contacting and bringing Amnesty International in to this or have they been already?

    • I recently updated the post to include an action you can take with Amnesty International. I encourage you to reach out to them.

      • Thank you for all you are doing to let the citizens of USA know what’s going on.

        Is it possible that the missing children were placed with other immigrants fearful of being sent back themselves? It could also be families who would like to adopt, but again worry the children will be taken away.

        Thanks. I’ll be making calls tomorrow.

      • I’m publishing an update in the morning with more answers and links to good explainer articles. But, the children who could not be located by the ORR were primarily sent to relatives living in the U.S. They have to undergo a thorough background check before the kids are placed with them. That said, there are big gaps in the system and our govt needs to do a much better job at keeping these vulnerable kids safe.

      • They could have been trafficked or sent to wealthy poeople who haven’t been able to have children, now that Russian Children are hard to adopt. God only knows where they’ve ended up. Even the nazis kept track of who belonged to what family! This is beyond horrifying! These kids will never be the same. They are completely traumatized for life. And for what?

  5. How about inundating FLOTUS with emails calling on her to make this part of her Be Best initiative? It embarrass her enough to raise hell at home.

    • I’ve been on Twitter doing just that. Using the hashtag to ask Congress senators and I make sure I add POTUS and FLOTUS. I must have done that today about 100 times.

  6. Thank you for this post. I just posted a similar post to my blog, FiftyFourAndAHalf.com, based upon, and referencing your post. Thanks for doing such an excellent job.

    You might want to add a “Reblog” button to your post. I’ve followed you, and you are a wealth of information that can be passed on easily by reblogging your work.

    I look forward to getting to know you through your blog.


  7. That these children are looked upon as disposable is immoral. We as Americans have been leaders in human rights in the past. How sad that we are now serious offenders. I am furious!!!

    • I’m unclear about when we in the United States have been leaders in human rights, but I agree the present situation is dire.

      • Erika S., I to, am also unclear as to when (if ever) we in the United States have ever been leaders in human rights? As a friend of mine a few years ago used to quote – “Just because they say it, DON’T make it so.”

  8. Shame on us if we do not take a little time to scream out about this to those who are supposed to represent us. Citizens of the World should unite to defy those who would tear children from parents, families from each other. Yes, it is sad that we live in a country doing this, a country that has stood for human rights. But we can make our voices heard. Just do it.

  9. This happened in 2014. Ask Obama.

    • You mean when he was trying to get Congress to address the problem and they wouldn’t? So he had to wait until after the mid term elections, but it still wasn’t addressed by Congress? His position was to end the practice of separating families, but the Republican controlled congress fought him every step of the way. The Guardian has a great 2014 article about it. You can’t have it both ways, either he was weak on immigration issues (he wasn’t, but I hear that a lot from the GOP) or he oversaw the same situation we’re seeing now (which he didn’t approve of and tried to end). In any case, none of that is important, what’s important is that you stop the straw man arguments and contact your reps to protest what is happening NOW.

    • Donald Trump is our current POTUS. This is all on him now. Stop throwing it back to previous leaders and demand that our CURRENT administration DO SOMETHING RIGHT FOR ONCE!

      • You mean like. Obama did for 8 yrs? blame Bush for Everything he wouldn’t fix.

        Also last I checked DOJ mad Homeland fall squarely under the executive branch. If Trump can supposedly continue this practice, Obama could have certainly stood down his DOJ/Homeland like he did on Marijuana prosecutions and other areas.

        Yes Trump is in charge so it’s his show. But stop pretensinf the great King you all make Obama out to be was both beyond powerful to. Change the world yet held at bay by big bad Republicans….

        This was a policy that began under Obama. He did not end it and therefore endorsed it by inaction.

        Perhaps it should be ended that is for Trump to, deal with the consequences of now.

  10. I’d really like to know there’s a person behind this march who will provide her name.

    • There is an email in that link. I have not tried to reach out to her but fellow activists have. When I have more concrete information, I’ll update the post.

    • Just curious… why do you wonder if there is a specific person who has been instrumental in promoting the march, and in particular whether they would provide their name?

      • Oh that’s simple, David. She wants to know if there’s a real person behind it because if we can’t provide an answer, she gets to toss away the whole narrative as ‘another Liberal scam/big Left money fake news event’.

        Because compassion takes effort.

  11. Is anything being done to track down the missing children?

  12. Please make sure you’re protesting the right thing though, because this could be used to hurt the kids more than it helps them! https://twitter.com/jduffyrice/status/1000927903759110144?s=19

  13. According to josie duffy rice on twitter, 2 issues are being conflated. The government is NOT SUPPOSED to keep track of unaccompanied minors once they have been released, which is to someone who has been vetted. She suggests strongly that there are many many reasons NOT to push these agencies to surveill people who have been released. On the other hand, the new practice of separating children from their parents is reprehensible and should be protested fiercely. Here the problem is that the gov’t likely knows where those children are but the parents don’t.

  14. Opening my email and seeing this thread was just what I needed. I have contacted both Senators and will contact Representatives today. I agree, it’s time to take action!

  15. while trying to figure out who to contact at ICE (all the offices in all 50 states??), i saw a link at the top of their website labeled “report crimes.”

    do you think that is an effective way to notify them of my concern? does using that mechanism put me at legal risk?

    we can report “anonymously” (probably not really possible) and here is the warning:


    The information I’ve provided on this form is correct to the best of my knowledge. I understand that providing false information could subject me to fine, imprisonment, or both. (Title 18, U.S.C. § 1001).

    but if we include the links to the news stories and reports, then there is no false info, right?


  16. Yes!
    It is really helpful.
    I have used your link on twitter. I hope its o.k..

  17. My question is why in the hell are we even taking the kids from their parents? Why not just leave the kids with the parents and send them back where they came from.

    • Jeff, where did your ancestors come from?

    • Jeff, it’s easy to find plenty of documentation on the kinds of horrors these families (including children) are facing at home. I know you wouldn’t want them returned to those conditions if you understood what is at stake. Please just do a simple google search on Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Honduran emigration causes.

  18. There is nothing new about this. Do some research. Want to let everyone in? There will be more and more and more of this.
    Check out the communities who couldn’t deal with the group’s the Obama Administration sent them after the kids on the roof of the trains invaded the U.S. a few years ago.

    Honduras, Mexico, Venezuela etc.kill their own people. You don’t want us to be the world ‘s policemen, so the situation in these countries goes on and on. We cannot save the world. We can’t even deal with the folks who are here already.

    Thinks it’s easy to keep up with hundreds, thousands of people just showing up. Think it 10, 000 folks came across the border.? How would YOU handle it?

  19. Moderating my comment. That’s called censorship.

  20. These children are not “missing.” Please read this: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1000927903759110144.html

    • As I state in the post, there are children who are “unaccounted for.” Which is not the same as missing. I’ve seen the thread you link to, as well as other immigration lawyers who do not agree with everything she says in her thread. What everyone does agree with, is that how children are being treated at the border and in the subsequent months is far from ideal, and there is work to be done to improve it.

  21. Should we contact Congress or should we contact the people who sponsored this? The ones who rented the busses and brought these folks to the Border. They are the ones who set this in motion and put the children in this position.


  23. As a psychologist, I know this is traumatizing children and parents and will cause life long PTSD.


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  6. Angry that US Agencies Separate Families? Some Things to Do. – Coffee Shop Rabbi
  7. Action items to help children separated from parents at border | Writing My Mind
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  10. Stop the Cruel and Inhumane Separation of Families | Patricia DeMarco Ph.D.
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