If you live in the United States you are aware of the immigrant border crisis that has caused an uproar throughout the country. In the last two months, at least 2,500 children were separated, The Washington Post has reported. In October 2017 the Trump administration tested the “zero tolerance” policy and since then there has been an increasing rate of immigrants being detained and separated from their families. The New York Times reported that, between October and April, more than 700 children were separated from adults claiming to be their parents.*
Many are asking how they can help the immigrants stuck at the Texas border going through so much heartache due to being separated from their family. Did you know that immigrants who have access to representation are up to ten times more likely to establish a right to stay with their families and communities in the United States than immigrants who lack representation?
RAICES is a nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees in Texas. RAICES has a staff of 130 attorneys, legal assistants, and support staff that provide consultations, direct legal services, representation, assistance and advocacy to communities in Texas and to clients after they leave the state.
In collaboration with the Karnes Pro Bono Project, since 2014 RAICES has been providing free legal services to detainees in the Karnes Detention Center. The detained women and children are forced to pass a credible or reasonable fear interview before they can be released to pursue asylum. Unfortunately, the failure to meet requirements for asylum can lead to deportation forcing them to go back to their country in fear for their life. RAICES helps women prepare for their interviews with asylum officers and their applications for asylum, and represents them in immigration court. Since January of 2017, RAICES staff and pro-bonos provided representation to 90% of women at the Karnes Family Detention Center. Throughout 2017, RAICES staff closed 51,000 cases at no cost to the client. They recently launched Family Reunification Program that is working with the Texas Civil Rights Project to identify the families being separated at the border.
In an effort to help those detained, on February 15th, 2018 the RAICES San Antonio Deportation Defense Hotline opened to take calls from San Antonio residents being detained in immigration detention centers. The “National Families Together Hotline” is (866)-ESTAMOS or (866-378-2667) to reunite families who have been separated upon entry to the United State. If you know someone in detention please call 800-409-2893 and leave a message, they will return your call shortly.
Per RAICES, since June 1, 2018 they have received the names of 184 people separated from their children at the McAllen court alone. RAICES has also been identifying the parents of children in their children’s program who have been separated from their parents since January 2017. They currently have close to 200 families on that list, but the vast majority have been separated from their parents more recently. They expect these numbers to climb rapidly throughout 2018.
There are still so many families separated at the border and through RAICES’s help the numbers will hopefully decrease within time.
For more information or to donate to RAICES’s initiatives please visit: https://www.raicestexas.org/. To sign up for their #EndFamilySeparation Tool Kit please visit: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/endfamilyseparation.
Source: RAICES, Washington Post, New York Times, Texas Tribune
*Based on data from the Office of Refugee Resettlement