Everybody is talking about the refugee children but nobody knows what to do. They want to help, but they don't know how. Hispanics In Philanthropy's Fellow, Alex Parker-Guerrero has come up with three simple suggestions on how you can help.
Recently, the Obama administration announced a plan to expedite the deportation process of unaccompanied minors apprehended in detention centers at the U.S. – Mexico border. The flight of young children from countries in Central America to the United States is no new phenomenon, but the amount of minors being caught has escalated in the last couple of years. In 2014 alone, it is estimated that up to 90,000 unaccompanied minors will be detained, far exceeding the capacity of a federal detention system that is designed to hold only 8,000 people. This summer, the issue has received an unprecedented amount of attention in the country’s public discourse and national media, making now an important opportunity to address the issue.
I work for Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP), an Oakland, California based organization that connects Latino-led and Latino serving nonprofit organizations to grant makers. After careful consideration, we have decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign on our crowdfunding platform, HIPGive.org, to help nonprofits that provide direct services to detained unaccompanied minors raise money for their programs. Nonprofits that we hope to work with are already providing ‘know your rights’ workshops to these children, coordinating pro bono legal representation, and working to foster more humane living conditions in detention centers.
As the federal government works continuously to fortify the the border, programs that provide meaningful services to these children are in jeopardy, and the work of philanthropic foundations, non-profit organizations, and other non-governmental organizations like ours will become crucial.
Equally important, however, is that American citizens help us to address this issue. While you may not work for an organization that is directly involved, here are three simple things that you can do to help:
1. Change the narrative. Understand that policies like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) have not incentivized child migration. Child refugees from Central America are not pulled to U.S. by the allure of “soft” liberal immigration policies, but are instead pushed out of their home countries by factors such as violence, economic depression, and governmental corruption. Had conditions been better in their home countries, most of these children would not have left.
2. Advocate. Whether this means engaging in a conversation with your friends, boycotting a particular company, or pressuring your governmental representative, it is important that we take stances on this issue. The relevance of child migrants in our current political discourse makes now a very important time.
3. Give. This can mean volunteering your legal skills, donating $5 dollars to a nonprofit, or anything in between. Check out hipgive.org, other crowdfunding sites, or simply search the web for nonprofits that are working on this issue. It is important that organizations working with this issue receive support from the general public.
In addition, HIP's president, Diana Campoamor, outlines ways the philanthropic sector can respond to the humanitarian crisis in an opinion piece published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. We see this is not as an immigration issue, but an unprecedented humanitarian crisis that has the potential to quietly continue if gone unchallenged.
-by Alex Parker-Guerrero, HIPGive Fellow, Hispanics in Philanthropy
Hispanics in Philanthropy and GCIR have joined forces to provide philanthropy with the information and resources needed to respond effectively to the thousands of immigrant children who have come to the United States to escape violence in Central America and Mexico.
Unaccompanied Children Migrating to the United States: Resources for Philanthropy