I’ve been getting asked how people outside of the Valley can help the refugee crisis. Besides making monetary donations, there are a number of other ways you can help where you’re from.
Connect with legal aid and immigrant rights groups in your area
The refugee families released from Border Patrol custody with their notices to appear are only passing through the Valley to unite with family members throughout the US. As Salvadorans are now the third largest Latino minority group in the U.S., and migration from these nations has been constant since the late 80s, there is a chance that some of them will be heading to your area of the country. Besides showing general support for them and their efforts to escape violence and grinding poverty, you can try volunteering with the organizations in your area who are probably taking on extra work in light of this crisis.
Many states have a network of legal aid service providers. Also check out the Catholic Legal Immigration Network to find an immigration legal office in your area. Many states also have an immigrant rights network. If there is no network in your area, join one of the campaigns here.
Call your congressional representativeIn terms of advocacy, the congressional reps from your area probably need to get more calls and actions supporting protecting refugees, not sending them to their deportation (and likely their death). Chances are they are getting more calls from people fearful of a lawless border with terrorists pouring across than from people concerned with the welfare of these children.
Find out who represents you in congress and get contact information on this nifty map.
Educate people around you
Along that vein, you can help educate the general public in your area about the reality of the situation. There is a lot of disinformation being perpetuated by right wingers supporting border militarization and expediting the deportations of these kids. Arm yourself with knowledge from the US Committee on Refugees and Immigrants, Committee in Solidarity With the People of El Salvador (on Facebook here) and La Union del Pueblo Entero. Then write a letter to the editor of you local newspaper, call your TV news outlet, and comment on the publications of your congressional representative’s Facebook page.
Learn about the root causes of the crisis
This crisis is not going to go away unless we address the root causes in the countries that these children and families are fleeing: stark economic inequality, US-backed neoliberal economic policy and US foreign military aid. There are a number of good articles online, including this analysis of Neoliberalism in El Salvador (opens a PDF). We need a wider sector of the public to be familiar with the broad strokes of these root cases if we are going to move forward and not just repeat past mistakes.
If you want to donate toward helping the refugee families, check out www.SouthTexasRefugees.org