Again, thank you all for caring so much about this issue that you are sharing calls-to-action and trying to better understand the issues at hand. Immigration and border control are issues that are extraordinarily complicated and it is important to remember that there are several things happening at once right now, so it can get confusing.
Today, I want to share a few updates and clarifications regarding the issue of how our government is treating minors at the border, plus I have some more resources for those who want to help further.
There has been a question as to whether the kids in the media stories are “missing.” The correct language to use is that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (the agency who was attempting to contact them) “could not account for their whereabouts.” Both the New York Times and Snopes did explainers so we can better understand what happened with the minors who showed up at the border unaccompanied by their parents.
People have also been pointing out that the story about the minors showing up unaccompanied by parents is a different story/issue than the new Trump policy that now means that any families crossing the Southwest border illegally will have the children separated from their parents. That is also true.
Here’s the rub. The new policy that AG Jeff Sessions rolled out on May 7 is that they will refer 100% of illegal border crossers for prosecution. As soon as the parents are detained for criminal charges, the children can then be classified as “unaccompanied minors.” This classification moves the children from under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and moves them over to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which is where the Office for Refugee Resettlement is.
Once any of these minors get to ORR, the agency attempts to locate sponsors for them. These sponsors are usually relatives, and they have to go through a thorough background check. They stay with the sponsor until their deportation hearing is scheduled. (They could also apply for asylum or otherwise find a legal way to remain in the country.)
The recent congressional hearings that revealed that the agency could not account for the nearly 1,500 minors, also revealed something else. Congress had asked both DHS and HHS to write a joint memo that outlined what each of their responsibilities were when it comes to migrant minors so they could better deal with the holes in the system and create better accountability for the safety of the children. (Note that the severe questions and frustration came from both sides of the aisle.) At the hearings, the agency confirmed that the memo has not yet been written. It is over a year late.
So, for those of us who want to help, you can see that there are a lot of issues that need solutions and that they are intertwined. Each of the actions that you see posted are trying to solve one piece of a very large problem. As with any big issue, my advice is to find the first thing you want to help with and go for it. Just start somewhere.
New Actions & Organizations To Support
My original post and list of actions can be found here.
Go to a special edition of Rogan’s List to see her list of specific actions to protest the policy of separating children from their families.
A special issue of Americans of Conscience came out on Sunday with specific actions and a script to protest both the new policy of separating kids from their parents, and demanding better accountability for the unaccompanied minors whose whereabouts are unknown.
Wall of Us included an action this week to demand an investigation into the abuses of migrant children at the border.
Cool Mom Picks has a terrific list of immigration-focused organizations you can support.
A few of those organizations that I’d like to point out:
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
> They advocate for children’s rights as they migrate alone.
The Florence Project
> They provide free legal services to men, women, and unaccompanied children in immigration custody in Arizona.
Again, thank you for your attention on this issue.