FAMILY SEPARATION RESOURCES
In May, the Trump Administration announced a new “zero tolerance” policy, which has resulted in the criminal prosecution of thousands of individuals seeking asylum. While the adults are jailed and prosecuted, their children are ripped away and put into Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters, which are now overrun with very young children who have become “unaccompanied,” despite the fact that they came seeking asylum with a parent. More than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents, including infants. This is cruel, inhumane, and exceptionally harmful for already traumatized families. As a result of this policy, new shelters for children have opened near El Paso and one is proposed for downtown Houston* for “tender age” children under 12. On June 20th, Mayor Sylvester Turner came out strongly opposed to the family separation policy and indicated that the city would do everything it could to stop any new shelters for separated children in Houston.
On June 20, President Trump signed an executive order that orders the detention of families who enter the United States seeking asylum to be detained in family detention centers while they fight their asylum cases. HILSC and partners decry the use of family detention, which further traumatizes children and asylum seekers. While the active policy of separating families has stopped, there is no plan or system to reunite the thousands already separated. Most recently, a federal judge in California ordered the government to reunite parents with their children aged under five within 14 days, all others within 30 days, and prohibits parents from being deported without their children. Here are a few ways you can work to fight these policies and their impact locally.
Read our statement condemning family separation and family detention, signed by many members of our community and its allies here.
*We will keep this page updated with information as it becomes available.
Support the organizations that provide direct legal services to unaccompanied and separated children and their parents, helping them reunite. In Houston those organizations are:
- Deporation Defense Houston project (HILSC, YMCA International Services, South Texas College of Law Houston, Baker Ripley, Justice for our Neighbors)
- Tahirih Justice Center
Around the state, these organizations are providing direct services to separated children:
- Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) (statewide)
- Human Rights Initiative of North Texas (Dallas)
- ABA’s ProBar (Rio Grande Valley)
- Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services (DRMS) (El Paso)
Support leaders of local advocacy through litigation
- Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP)
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas
- United We Dream
- Texas Organizing Project
- Lawyers can take a pro bono asylum case with:
- Human Rights First
- Tahirih Justice Center
- Kids In Need of Defense (Houston)
- Please contact Claire Doutre at email@example.com
- Catholic Charities (Houston)
- Email ProBono@CatholicCharities.org, complete Pro Bono Attorney application
- Anyone can:
- Become a “child advocate” to work one-on-one with unaccompanied children and advocate for their best interests. Get trained with the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. Contact Rachel Wootten at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for the next training in Houston.
- Help take declarations from separated families with the Texas Civil Rights Project. They are looking for Spanish-speaking (and Mam, Q’eqchi’ or K’iche’ speaking) volunteers to travel to McAllen, Texas to help interview families. TCRP cannot cover costs related to travel or lodging for volunteers. Sign up here.
- Let Me In video – a great tool for people trying to get “into the shoes” of an asylum seeker
- Hidden Children video (ADL) – adults who were separated from families during the Holocaust reflect on current events
- Call your members of congress!
- Kids In Need of Defense
- Families Belong Together Campaign
- Background on Family Separation at the Border (KIND/CILA)
- The remarkable history of the family separation policy (CNN)
- Background on the Flores Settlement (Human Rights First)
- How Trump Came to Enforce a Policy of Separating Migrant Families (New York Times)
- Judge Says Yes To Lawsuit Challenging Trump Administration Family Separation Policy (NPR)
- Citing basic compassion, federal judge mulling over order preventing family separations in certain cases (The Monitor)
- Trump Plans Executive Order to Allow Detaining Families Together Indefinitely (New York Times)
- Separating Kids From Parents Can Cause Psychological Harm. But Experts Say Detaining Them Together Isn’t Much Better (TIME)
- How Trump’s family separation policy became what it is today (PBS)