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  • Women in Nepal

    migrant children

    Trump Administration To Deprive Migrant Kids In Shelters Of English Lessons, Legal Aid

    “This is a management crisis,” said Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “These policies create chaotic and dangerous situations and harm children.”

    What You Need to Know About the Crisis at the Border

    A year ago almost to the week, America became aware of the Trump administration’s policy, announced, then denied, then announced again, of separating migrant children from their parents at the southern border....For many migrants, the situation at the border is now even worse than a year ago,...The problems at the border now go far beyond the family separations of last summer. Since the president depends on public confusion and weariness as he implements ever more inhumane policies, we’ve attempted to summarize those policies and offer some ideas for how you can help immigrants access legal aid and other forms of assistance....

    The Women’s Refugee Commission is leading national efforts against family separation and child detention to preserve access to asylum, increase use of alternatives to detention, and improve detention conditions.

    We went to a border detention center for children. What we saw was awful.

    But that ask glosses over the fact that more children are in immigration custody because over the last several years the government has slowed down the rate at which children are reunified with their families. The government has sought to use children in Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) facilities as bait to arrest and deport the family members who come forward to care for them, according to a report by advocacy groups The Women's Refugee Commission and the National Immigrant Justice Center.

    6 Ways To Help Immigrant Children In Detention Centers Right Now

    It's easy to feel helpless when reading news such as this and you may feel like there's nothing you can do, but there is. As the Women's Refugee Commission pointed out, there are plenty of ways to help immigrant children in these detention facilities and some are more simple than you might think.

    We went to a border detention center for children. What we saw was awful

    The government has sought to use children in Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) facilities as bait to arrest and deport the family members who come forward to care for them, according to a report by advocacy groups The Women's Refugee Commission and the National Immigrant Justice Center.

    We went to a border detention center for children. What we saw was awful

    The government has sought to use children in Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) facilities as bait to arrest and deport the family members who come forward to care for them, according to a report by advocacy groups The Women's Refugee Commission and the National Immigrant Justice Center.

    Real Solutions to the Trump Administration’s Unconscionable Policies Toward Children and Families Seeking Asylum

    This blog was cross-posted from Medium.

    The Trump administration’s deterrence-at-all-costs policies have caused an unprecedented humanitarian crisis at our border. Children who have fled unspeakable violence and poverty are being brutally mistreatedon American soil—forced to spend weeks in overcrowded, dirty cells without soap, toothbrushes, or beds. Children are getting sick, being fed uncooked frozen food, and being forced to care for younger children, some as young as four months. Since December, at least five children have died while in the custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and just this week another child and her father diedin a desperate attempt to seek a better life. And as if all of this were not enough, families are still being separated, ripped apart by the government with no plans to reunify them, despite a judge’s order a year ago to reunite families.

    Here's How You Can Help Migrant Children


    In light of recent reports about the treatment of migrant children in government custody, many generous Americans have come forward, wanting to help. Here are some ways that you can become involved:

    Learn the facts – what is our government doing?

    The Trump administration has been implementing policies at our southern border that are endangering and harming families and children. The policies are designed to discourage migrants from seeking assistance at our southern border despite evidence that these families are fleeing horrific violenceand that cruel border policiesare ineffective and do not reduce migration flows. The migrants arriving at our southern border are seeking refuge for their families and have no other place to go, and any of us would do the same. Families are being separated, children are being held in filthy and dangerous conditions, and children are dyingin US custody as the Trump administration ramps up these deterrence policies – some of which are illegal and all of which threaten our values as a nation.

    This is not a question of funding for Customs and Border Protection, or a need for more detention capacity. It is not an asylum crisis. It is a political and moral crisis created and exacerbated by an administration holding innocent children hostage to score political points. Since its first days in office, this administration has implemented policies that have strained our processing systems, harmed children, and caused chaos and confusion, including:

    We must preserve our asylum system and defend laws, such as the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act [TVPRA] and the Flores Settlement, which protect the rights of the most vulnerable people in our nation. We should utilize proven alternatives to detentionwhich are more cost effective, efficient, and humane ways to process asylum seekers. We should stop forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexicowhile their immigration cases are processed – a policy that is already being challenged in court. We can and must invest in smart comprehensive and humane solutions to the reality that children and families are fleeing Central America and seeking protection at our border.

    Support the Women’s Refugee Commission

    Your donations support the Migrant Rights and Justice program, which has been fighting for migrant children for many years. We work to hold the government accountable and to ensure that refugee children and families are treated humanely and fairly. We travel around the country monitoring and inspecting detention centers and border enforcement policies. We work with litigators and service providers to expose and halt mistreatment. We work to reunify separated families and empower them by connecting them to resources. And we work with Congress and policymakers to preserve and strengthen human and civil rights for migrants. Your donations are greatly appreciated and help ensure that families and children have the best possible chance at justice and safety. 

    Speak out and educate the people around you

    This is not an immigration crisis – it is not an asylum crisis – it is a management crisis. Providing humane treatment to refugee children is a basic American value. Speak out on social media and educate the people closest to you on the facts.

    Call your government representatives

    Call your local, state, and/or national representatives to let them know that you think this is a humanitarian issue. You can find your federal senators and representatives here. Key messages include:

    • Protect children's rights. Do not eliminate any existing protections for immigrant children and families. Protections are not loopholes.

    • Give children the chance to tell their experiences, and evaluate their claims to see if they qualify as refugees.

    • Establish standards for the humane treatment of children (and families) in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody

    • This is a crisis of leadership, not a crisis of insufficient resources.

    • Prevent the government from re-directing any additional emergency funds to other enforcement purposes.

    Donate goods

    The government facilitates that hold unaccompanied children are generally not allowed to accept donated goods. However, private migrant shelters need supplies. Consider sending donations like books, clothing, stuffed animals, story time, and art projects to a local shelter near you.

    Support migrant children and families in your community

    As these families and children are released and reunited with family or sponsors, they will be entering communities throughout the country. They have undergone long journeys and find themselves in strange new environments. Offer support, friendship, and encouragement. Show them they are welcome here. Schools, churches, and community centers are a good place to start. When the new school year starts, keep an eye out for new students in your child's school or new players on the soccer team. Offer assistance and support.


    Most of the children coming to the US have family members in this country who can care for them. However, many families are afraid to come forward. In the meantime, shelters and foster families are a critical need for some children. If you are interested in being a foster family for some of the very young children or pregnant girls who are arriving, the best advice is to begin the process to become licensed foster parents. This is run through your local child welfare organization and is required by the Office of Refugee Resettlement. For more details, look at this page of the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s website, and at the two organizations that generally manage foster care for unaccompanied minors: the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Lutheran Social Services for Children and Families.

    If you know a refugee who has been detained

    For legal assistance for detained refugees, contact the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) hotline or American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). To contact UNCHR from outside a detention center, dial 1-888-272-1913; to contact UNHCR from inside a detention center, dial 566#. To contact AILA, see details on their webpage.

    Ways to support adults (who are also often parents)

    • Visit immigrants in detention centers in your area. Not all detention centers are at the border. ICE has hundreds of detention centers all over the country. You are allowed to visit detention centers. Many areas have visitation programs so that you can volunteer to be a visitor and provide moral support for immigrants in detention. Check out this listto see if your city or state has such a program.
    • Volunteer with local service providers in your area. to accompany immigrants to immigration court and ICE check-in appointments: Some organizations coordinate accompaniment to court or ICE check-in appointments. Others need interpreters or people to babysit children while they interview parents. There is not one national organization overseeing these local efforts. Look around in your area.

    Other options

    Call your local government to see if they have set up a task force, especially in areas that have a large immigrant population. New York, for example, has several small non-profitsthat are directly helping these children. 

    Support our lifesaving work button

    Children at the border: the crisis that America wasn't prepared for

    The shift toward children and families “didn’t happen overnight”, said Michelle Brané of the Women’s Refugee Commission. Though activists have broadcasted the need to prepare for such a more vulnerable population for years, she added, processes and infrastructure at the border still “have not adapted for the new demographic”.

    Heinrich, Udall call for changes in the care of migrant children

    “There is absolutely no reason to detain anyone who is not a danger to the public for weeks and months in overcrowded substandard facilities that endanger the health and safety of migrants and the government employees who work in these facilities,” said Michelle Brané, policy expert at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

    “America Speaks Out: Stop Trump’s Cruel Treatment of Children at the Border”

    Testimony before Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Hearing, July 23, 2019

    Michelle Brané, senior director of the Women's Refugee Commission's Migrant Rights and Justice program, testified about the unnecessarily cruel policies that have been implemented at our southern border, and the proven, effective, alternative solutions that have been ignored by the Trump administration.

    Readher written testimony.

    WatchMichelle's testimony.

    The whole child separation travesty is pointless

    Over the course of this summer, the American people -- across party lines -- have shown that they reject the hate and dehumanization of immigrants that appears to have motivated last weekend's mass shooting in El Paso. Many are outraged over the cruel neglect of children in custody along the border -- child abuse as immigration policy -- and this has spurred Congress to exercise some much-needed oversight....

    It cost $38 a day for a familyto participate in the ICE Family Case Management Program, according to the Women's Refugee Commission, an advocacy group, compared with $319 a dayper bed at a family detention center or $775 a dayper child detained at the secure for-profit facility in Homestead, Florida.