Family Separations at the Border: A Resource List

An image of Dr. James rodriguez explaining the concept of Adverse Childhood Experience captured from the explainer video.

The following is a resource list for people who want to make a difference in the lives of children and parents separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. The government response to the problem has proven inadequate, but by focusing attention on the issue and providing community support, these families be reunited. Below are a few things you do to help.

Many of these resources can also be found at the National Association of Social Workers website. If you have additional resources to contribute, please notify us so that we can continue to verify and share valuable information.

Volunteer or Donate

Many organizations are providing legal, advocacy, social, mental health or child welfare services to the separated children and parents.

  1. The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is a non-profit focused on “providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families and refugees in Central and South Texas,” according to the organization’s website. The non-profit, which currently has about 50 lawyers on staff, got a lot of attention over the past week after Charlotte and Dave Willner set up a Facebook fundraiser that raised over $10 million in just four days. Donations made to the Facebook fundraiser go directly to RAICES, and the non-profit says it plans to use the funds to hire more attorneys and volunteers willing to travel to Texas to assist.
  2. The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights advocates for the safety and well-being of unaccompanied kids arriving in the United States. They recently announced a project specifically dedicated to helping children separated from their parents at the border by providing trained advocates to accompany detained children to court.
  3. Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) works to ensure that no child appears in immigration court alone without representation.
  4. Catholic Charities Community Services in New York provides legal assistance to children separated from their families.
  5. The International Rescue Committee supports unaccompanied children after they’ve been released from detention, and other innocent kids by connecting them to critical legal services and helping them access psychosocial support.
  6. Families Belong Together is a coalition opposing the separation of families at the border and is organizing a series of rallies and events across the country.
  7. U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) is national, nonprofit, nonpartisan refugee resettlement and advocacy organization that has served and defended the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons. Based in Washington, D.C., it has six field offices including one in Albany, NY, and partners with local community-based agencies across the nation to help thousands of refugees build new lives in the U.S. each year.
  8. Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services is the biggest source of free and low-cost immigration services in West Texas. It says it’s the only organization in El Paso serving unaccompanied children.
  9. Lutheran Social Services and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which is raising money to provide immigrant children counseling, therapy, shelter, beds and medical services to help them cope with the trauma of being separated from their families.
  10. Catholic Charities USA and the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley is offering shelter to those immigrants who have been released from U.S. Border Patrol custody.
  11. Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project works to prevent the deportation of asylum-seeking families fleeing violence. The group accepts donations and asks people to sign up for volunteer opportunities
  12. The Vera Institute of Justice recently launched the Immigration Technical Assistance Center (ITAC), as a resource for all attorneys representing immigrants.
  13. Together Rising Love Flash Mob. The fundraising effort will go to provide bilingual legal and advocacy assistance for 60 children, aged 12 months to 10 years, currently separated from their parents in an Arizona detention center. Their first priority will be to establish and maintain contact between children and their parents, with the ultimate goal of reunification and safety and rehabilitation for the children.
  14. The Florence Project and Refugee Rights Project. This organization provides legal assistance and social services to detained immigrants in Arizona.
  15. Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project. They work to prevent the deportation of asylum-seeking families fleeing violence.

Influence Policymakers

Call your elected officials or Sign Petitions. Let you representatives know that you do not agree with this possible.

  1. Find contact info for all the elected officials who represent you at
  2. Senator Chuck Schumer has called for the creation of a reunification czar responsible for coordinating efforts to reunite children with parents. Call your congressman and senators to voice your approval for this idea
  3. In New York State, Governor Cuomo has declared additional support services and mental health counseling to be available to unaccompanied and separated children. Call state representatives to approve of this plan.
  4. Various organizations prepared petitions against family separation. For example ACLU collects signatures to tell Homeland Security to “end the vicious and inhumane practice of separating children from their families.” Faith communities are also collecting signatures “to oppose the administration’s policy of criminally prosecuting parents, forcibly separating them from their children at the U.S. border, or mandating that families be held in prolonged detention.”
  5. First, download the 5 Calls App for a phone call script on the following issues:
    1. Support the Keep Families Together Act
    2. Send comments to the Department of Homeland Security, too, to register public complaints.

Stay Informed

Current immigration policy is based on a great deal of misinformation about immigrants and refugees. Learn more about these issues.

  1. Keep up with groups informing the public on the current issues related to forced migration.
    1. ESPMI Network connects emerging scholars, practitioners, policymakers, journalists, artists, and all those involved in forced migration and refugee studies to meaningful work and professional connections, as well as to produce new research and new interest in these important issues
    2. Forced Migration Forum is a platform initiated by Alex Aleinikoff, Muneer Ahmad and Patrick Weil for discussion of topics relating to forced migration from all academic fields and policy points of view.
  2. Access other helpful resources created by various local and national providers:
    1. New York City Department of Education (DOE) has provided guidance for principals on responding to requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for access to schools or student records. The DOE also sent a letter to parents explaining these policies and students’ rights in New York City; translations of the letter and additional resources on immigration enforcement are available on their website.
    2. The Legal Aid Society‘s newest fact sheets on the recent executive orders on immigration are now available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Farsi, French, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, and Urdu.
    3. IRAP prepared a document KNOW YOUR RIGHTS Travel to the U.S. After the March 6, 2017 Executive Order also available in Arabic and Farsi
  3. Stay up-to-date on evidence based studies on the situation of refugees, asylees and other immigrants in the United States and internationally:
    1. Migration Policy Institute (Washington DC) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide.
    2. The Institute for the Study of International Migration (Georgetown University, Washington DC), applies the best in social science research and policy expertise to understanding international migration and its consequences. Founded in 1998, ISIM is part of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and affiliated with the Law Center at Georgetown University.
    3. Center for Migration Studies (New York, NY) is a think tank and an educational institute devoted to the study of international migration, to the promotion of understanding between immigrants and receiving communities, and to public policies that safeguard the dignity and rights of migrants, refugees and newcomers.
    4. Center for Forced Migration Studies (Northwestern University, Evanston, IL) seeks to contribute to understandings of the conditions of refugee movement across state borders to avoid the risk of harm, the underlying social disenfranchisement, and the international community’s response to refugee needs.
    5. Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility (The New School of Social Research, New York, NY) – is interested in rethinking the conceptual terms that describe the movement of people – a key issue of our era — in order to both come up with new understandings of and responses to it, in the name of social justice and equality.

Learn How to Provide Child Services

  •  If you are a provider of children’s services:
    1. Also go to the National Association of Social Workers page at NASW Advocacy for more information on what you can do to help as a provider.
    2. If you are a teacher, counselor, therapist, caseworker or case manager, please visit the Community Technical Assistance Center of New York for access to many webinars on the subject of exposure to ACEs, toxic stress and trauma.
  • Help Keep Tabs on Children

    Help to keep tabs on the children who have been separated. There’s a great deal of misinformation regarding the whereabouts of children and their parents making reunification efforts difficult if not impossible. ProPublica is an organization that is currently attempting to track the children and the facilities at which they are housed. Go to ProPublica’s Child Shelter locator site to provide information about detention near you.

    Connect People with Legal Aid

    If you, someone you love, need or are interested in learning more about obtaining legal assistance as a result of forced migration policy, please see:

    1. International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) “organizes law students and lawyers to develop and enforce a set of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced persons”
    2. CUNY CLEAR (Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility) Project aims to address the unmet legal needs of Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and other communities in the NYC-area that are particularly affected by national security and counter-terrorism policies and practices.
    3. CUNY/Citizenship Now! provides free, high quality, and confidential immigration law services to help individuals and families on their path to U.S. citizenship.
    4. City Bar Justice Center’s Immigrant Justice Project helps immigrants who are at their most vulnerable: asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their home countries, survivors of violent crimes and trafficking here in the United States, and individuals seeking humanitarian protection and other forms of relief. For a general intake, call 212 382 6710.
    5. City Bar Justice Legal Referral Service refers people to attorneys who have been vetted. Call 212 626 7373.
    6. Immigration Equality has no income restrictions, but serves only LGBT/HIV+ immigrants seeking asylum or other humanitarian relief. Call 212 714 2904.