Weekly Resistance: How to Help Refugees and Immigrant Families in the US

If you’re outraged and feeling helpless about recent developments in immigration policy, you’re not alone. Many Americans are horrified by the news that the Department of Homeland Security is incarcerating young children, separating families and running detention camps across the United States.

The bad news is that this has been going on for a while. The good news is that now that you know, you can do something about it.

I’ve rounded up five ways you can take action on immigration issues, from defending refugees fleeing violent crime to getting children out of immigration detention.

You can find information on how to contact your officials at all levels of government here. As always, if you haven’t had a chance yet, sign up for our newsletter and stay up-to-date on the latest!

1. Push Back on Immigration Myths

The current trajectory of immigration policy suggests that the Trump administration wants to effectively halt immigration into the United States. Know your myths from your facts.

  • Myth: Seeking asylum is illegal. Fact: People can pursue “affirmative” or “defensive” asylum. In affirmative cases, people present themselves within one year of entering the U.S, requesting asylum, and the government must consider their case. Defensive asylum-seekers file asylum to interrupt deportation proceedings.
  • Myth: Immigrants don’t pay taxes and consume government benefits. Fact: All immigrants, whether legal residents or undocumented immigrants, pay taxes through their employers. Benefits eligibility for legal residents is restricted, while undocumented immigrants cannot use such benefits at all. They pay in far more than they take out.
  • Myth: It’s easy to just follow the law. Fact: The law has created artificial scarcity for visas, with a waiting list that can be years long for people from some nations — even if their family members are already here. The current immigration process is time-consuming and expensive, and even those with the resources may not make the cut — though there’s no real reason to restrict entry to the U.S. for people who want to contribute to society and the economy.
  • Myth: Immigrants take jobs. Fact: Immigrants are job creators. Millions of undocumented immigrants across the US work in positions that legal residents and citizens refuse to fill, especially in the agricultural industry. But immigrants are also entrepreneurs, business owners, creative professionals and more.
  • Myth: Immigrants are terrorists and criminals. Fact: Immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated and in fact, crime rates have fallen with rising immigration. And with the notable exception of the September 11 attacks, most of the heinous acts of terrorism in the United States have been committed by birthright citizens – primarily white men.

2. Stop the ‘Family Separation Policy’

The Justice Department is separating families at the border, warehousing children away from their parents and trying to deny elected officials and journalists access to these facilities.

Know:

  • The Trump administration claims this is because of an Obama-era law. It’s not.
  • In the last six weeks, 2,000 children have been separated from their families.
  • Republicans have introduced legislation that they say will end the practice, but the devil’s in the details: It won’t.
  • California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein has introduced legislation that would halt this process, with a growing list of Democratic co-sponsors.

Act: Call your senators and representative to ask them what they’re doing to stop family separation. If you have children, draw upon their stories in a personal appeal: What would it be like for your six-week-old to be torn from your arms? How would you feel if your elementary schooler was whisked away?

Consider signing the following Care2 petitions:

3. Defend Asylum for People Fleeing Intimate Partner and Gang Violence

Historically, immigration judges have considered gang and intimate partner violence in asylum applications. But not anymore.

Know:

  • The asylum process can take years; nothing is an express ticket to an approval of an asylum application.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions flippantly referred to this kind of violence as “misfortune” in his announcement, insisting that the government should focus on offering asylum to people being persecuted by their governments.
  • Immigration judges have raised concerns that the Justice Department is making it harder for them to use their discretion in hearing and considering asylum cases.

Act: Contact your federal lawmakers to express your concern about this new DOJ policy, and ask them what they’re planning to do to protect vulnerable asylum-seekers.

Consider signing the following Care2 petition: Domestic Abuse And Gang Violence Survivors Deserve Asylum

4. DACA Recipients Still Need Your Help

Thanks to the Trump administration, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals remains in limbo by design, leaving many young immigrants anxious about their future.

Know:

  • This very limited program allowed young people brought to the U.S. as children to defer deportation by fulfilling certain requirements.
  • The Trump administration put the program on hold in 2017, claiming that Congress needed to address this issue legislatively.
  • Congress has not done so, though advocates are calling for a “clean DREAM Act” that would restore DACA without adding in provisions for detention centers, border security and other tactics designed to create a hostile climate for immigrants.

Act: Call on your representative to force action on this issue; Paul Ryan has refused to allow it to reach the House floor for debate. You may wish to note that uncertainty makes it hard for DACA recipients to fully participate in society.

Consider signing the following Care2 petition: DACA is Ending – Congress Must Pass the DREAM Act

5. White? Citizen? Make a Plan to Speak Up

Marching, contacting representatives, donating to charitable causes and talking to friends and family are all powerful and important actions, but what will you do if you witness harassment or abuse of immigrants — or law enforcement officers attempting to intimidate or arrest someone? Make a plan now, so that you’re prepared when it happens.

Know:

  • If you live or travel near the border, print out this flier on your rights with respect to interactions with Border Patrol and law enforcement. Learn these rights, and be prepared to defend them for yourself or others.
  • Bystander intervention can defuse a situation: Someone berating an immigrant on the street, threatening someone in a store or harassing a person in another context may think again if you say: “Hey! What are you doing?!”
  • Immigrant rights groups have been working on these issues for a long time; they know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to strategies for defending people from harassment by law enforcement, protecting people during immigration raids and more.

Act: Get together with friends and family to practice what you’ll do in a situation where government officials are violating civil rights, or when someone is harassing an immigrant in your presence. Whether you’re asking pesky questions — “Do you have a warrant?” “Can I see your badge?” “Why are you asking for her ID?” — to trip up law enforcement or reporting discriminatory comments to HR, defend the immigrants in your community and beyond.

Consider supporting immigrant rights groups like: Jewish Family and Community Services: LGBT Refugee Services; LUPE; Texas Civil Rights Project; RAICES; Immigrant Legal Resource Center; National Immigration Law Center; UnidosUS; Immigration Justice Project of San Diego; United We Dream; and the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Photo Credit: Becker1999/Flickr

81 comments

Lisa M
Lisa M29 days ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa M29 days ago

Noted.

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill29 days ago

thank you for the info

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Freya H
Freya H29 days ago

IMHO, what we really need to do is overhaul our immigration policy. We need to remove a lot of the red tape that slows the process of getting visas or refugee status. Our excuse for a government needs a huge injection of compassion.

I used to believe those lies about immigrants, but little by little my eyes were opened. My opinions did not change overnight - it took a while for me to realize that immigrants, documented or not, actually contribute to our economy. Yes, some of them do send money out of the country to families back home; however, put yourself in their shoes. What if the U.S. was a [bleep]hole and you managed to find work in, say, Canada but your family was still in Kansas? You'd want to wire them some dough.

Chrissie R and Janis K, if you are so concerned about the homeless in this country, put your money where your mouths are and help them yourselves.

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janis keller
janis keller29 days ago

I don't want to help illegals......I want to help homeless US citizens who are living on our streets by the tens of thousands!

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Susanne R
Susanne R29 days ago

@Brian: In a post that appears below, you "advised" me to "go to opensecrets.org." I've read and responded to your middle-school-quality posts --the ones directed at me or that insulted someone whose opinion I respect-- only to be insulted and met with the same old canned song-and-dance remarks.

Now can I tell YOU where to go?

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Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan Hillabout a month ago

Where is the spirit of love?

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Leo C
Leo Custerabout a month ago

Thank you for posting!

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Mary B
Mary Babout a month ago

Brian F, You are a person with no integrity. You call Obama weak, and corrupted because he was paid by Wall Street people for what? Speeches? Don't you know that,s what wealthy people do ?Unless you can PROVE it is corruption by legal standards, it's nothing but mean spirited propaganda. How much do YOU get paid to continue spouting this crap? As far as a bad health care plan, don't you even know where that plan originated from? Or how many DECADES it has taken to even GET ANY Plan to pay for health care? You're the weak criminal here and I'm insulting YOU directly because you deserve to be insulted for your part in spreading lies, and lables that should be pasted on your forehead.Day after day you come here and insult the rest of us with your worthless opinions , offer no insight or solutions, make no attempt to understand anything or act like you have an interest in helping to create a better world. Obama has the strength and integrity you will never have not to mention an insiders understanding of what's going on. Why don't you suppose no banker was prosecuted? May be because it wasn't just one bank, but an inter connected web and if one string was pulled, it could have calaspsed the
whole thing. Ya think ?You're being used to divide people into warring camps not devide people into complimentary opposites that each have a part to offer. Who pays you to do that ?

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Brian F
Brian Fabout a month ago

Susanne R Here you go again making excuses for all the bad things the Democrats do. When 17 Democrats vote with the Republicans to repeal Dodd-Frank, which could lead to another 2008 crash you defend the Democrats. Now you defend the Democrats who refuse to support Bernie Sander's Medicare for all plan. The only reason most Democrats refuse to support Bernie Sander's Medicare for all plan is because our criminal healthcare industry has paid them off. Go to opensecrets.org and see the $193,000 Nancy Pelosi got from our criminal healthcare industry as a bribe, to not support Medicare for all. I don't support breaking up families and Trump has stopped it. You need to stop defending and making excuses for the corrupt Democrats who cheated Bernie Sanders out of his primary, and caused this crook Trump to win. Most Americans support Medicare for all, and are suffering because we don't have it. Their is absolutely no excuse for any Democrat or Republican to not support it. Anyone who doesn't support Medicare for all, is a crook like Diane Feinstein, and bought off by our criminal healthcare industry. We're the only nation that has a horrible corporate owned healthcare industry, and you defend our nefarious healthcare industry. You have no sympathy for the millions of families who can't afford healthcare because both corrupt parties refuse to support Medicare for all.

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