It seems like hardly a day goes by without hearing about some new atrocity confronting immigrants and the immigration law system. In just the past week, these topics have dominated the headlines:
- Forced family separation at the border – we’re at 658 detained children as of today.
- Finding that being forced to cook and clean for a terrorist organization (after they made you watch your husband dig his own grave and get shot dead into it) is providing support to a terrorist organization and you’re ineligible for asylum or any type of immigration benefit
- More families are being forced apart for extended amounts of time (doing things the “right way”) because USCIS looks at whether or not US citizen family members of intending immigrants are receiving public benefits. That’s right, receiving benefits that US citizens are 100% entitled leads to punishing their non-US citizen family members.
- Deplorable conditions at the Stewart Detention Center, including reports that felons are housed with non-criminal detainees, that detention officers smuggle drugs into the facility, that paperwork that could lead to release is often lost, and that detainees are forced to work for $4.00 a day to pay for things like toilet paper.
With these constant assaults on human rights and Constitutional protections, what can we do? As an immigration attorney, I am able to chip away at these issues one case a time…But how to do we fight the bigger issues? How do non-attorneys get involved?
Sign Petitions Although they aren’t personal when thousands of people sign the same petition Congress listens. Sometimes it’s more about quantity – show your elected officials that you care about the issue. AILA has a great action center, but you can also visit MoveOn.org and other immigration non-profits to find ways to connect.
Write Letters and Editorials If you want to say more about a topic, write a personalized letter to your Representatives. But don’t stop there – submit it to the local paper as an editorial.
Social Media Talk about the issues on your various platforms and tag your Representatives. They have staff who monitor social media and look at what’s trending and how.
Educate yourself and then tell your friends, colleagues and family members about what’s going on in the world. I think so many people are outraged right now because they see what’s going on. Yet, some of this has been happening for a while – there have been family detention centers since President Obama and the conditions at Stewart Detention Center have been inhumane for years. Set up an RSS feed on Immigration issues so you can stay informed!
Get on Listservs Going along with the above, getting on listserves for education is great. But they also a great way to learn about rallies and panels. Some ideas include Project South, The Southern Poverty Law Center – Immigrant Justice Project, New Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta, and the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO).
Now is the time for action. We’re all in this together and the more we do together, the louder our voices, the less likely we are to be ignored.