How You Can Support Detained Immigrant Families

By catherine lizette gonzalez Jun 22, 2018

In the past two months, the government has ripped more than 2,300 children from their parents under the Trump administration’s "zero tolerance" enforcement policy on border crossings. As more reports reveal the irreversible health consequences of family separations and the harsh and abusive environments where many immigrant children are housed, many people have expressed outrage over this practice. 

Faced with intense criticism and pressure, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday (June 20) that claims to address the crisis by holding parents and children together indefinitely in detention centers. But the government has yet to implement a formal process for family reunification, and many parents see no viable way to track down their children. Meanwhile, private prison groups and Fortune 500 companies profit off the trauma of family separation and detention.

But there are several ways you can fight this horrifying reality. Here are actionable steps you can take to support immigrants and asylum-seekers being prosecuted and detained by the United States government. 

1. Call your elected officials.

Nonpartisan democracy-building organization Common Cause has a useful tool to help you find and contact the elected officials who represent you. And the American Civil Liberties Union has a script you can follow to critique the measures being introduced in Congress. 

Discover how your local government collaborates with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and hold elected officials accountable via a map provided by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.

2. Volunteer your skills.

Several organizations are seeking people who can offer legal or language expertise. If you know Spanish, Mam, or K’iche’, or have any paralegal or law training, you can volunteer with the Texas Civil Rights Project in McAllen, Texas. If you are able to translate Meso-American Indigenous languages (e.g., Zapotec, Nahuatl, Mam, K’iche’, Maya, Mixe, Mixtec) via phone, contact Lawyers for Good Government ([email protected]) or Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES, [email protected]).

You can also find local shelters, community centers and agencies in need of help via this resource provided by The New York Times

3. Take direct action locally. 

Across the country, people are protesting the criminalization of immigrants. On June 30, Families Belong Together will hold protests in several cities across the nation; join an event or organize one of your own

Activists also urge people to participate in direct actions at detention centers in their own communities; an ICE facility in Portland, Oregon, was temporarily shutdown Wednesday (June 20), following days of protest. Find an ICE facility near you. Also, migrant children are being shipped across the country—check this map from The Washington Post to see if a partner facility near you is hosting children. Then create your own action or connect with an organization that regular monitors facilities; Detention Watch Network has a state-by-state list.

"As somebody who doesn’t live on the U.S.-Mexico border, we have to see how ICE is functioning in our communities," Angelica Chazaro, an organizer with Mijente, told Colorlines. "The crisis at the border is a crisis of immigration enforcement gone out of control, so it’s up to us to disrupt ICE’s efforts in any way we can."

Mijente has issued a call to action with a form where you can submit your planned event or sign up to attend a direct action at the San Diego border on July 2. The group also has a guide for launching your own campaign.

4. Help immigrants pay bail bonds.

Some immigrants are offered bonds so they can wait for their court dates outside of detention, but the exorbitantly high amounts—they typically range from $1,500 to $10,000+, depending on the judge—are a major hurdle to freedom and family reunification.

"Bail increases [immigrant parents’] chances of winning their case," Paola Fernandez, an organizer with the Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee, told Colorlines. Since February, the Texas-based group has been fundraising for bail bonds through the Fianza Fund, which you can donate to here.

There are several other bail bond funds across the country that you can support, including:

Bay Area Immigration Bond Fund

Community Bail Fund of North Texas

Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project

Immigrant Bail Fund

Immigrant Family Defense Fund

LGBTQ Freedom Fund

Louisville Community Bail Fund

New Sanctuary Coalition

5. Support organizations providing legal services, translation assistance and advocacy on the frontlines.

The current crisis at the border builds on past immigration policies that have criminalized immigrants for decades. Many grassroots organizations have been fighting back for years. You can help 14 organizations supporting families with a single donation via Or, you can donate your money to the groups listed below:

Al Otro Lado


Centro Legal de la Raza

Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services

Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project

Florida Immigrant Coalition

Fuerza del Valle

Grassroots Leadership


Kids in Need of Defense

Las Americas

Mariposa Sin Fronteras

Michigan Immigrant Rights Center

National Center for Youth Law

Pueblo Sin Fronteras

Puente AZ

Queer Detainee Empowerment Project

Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network

Texas Civil Rights Project

Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid

The Young Center

Urban Justice Center

Let us know if there is another organization you think we should include in this guide by emailing us at [email protected].