Hope and Help for Immigrants: You Can Act Now

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If you feel hopeless in the face of today’s outrages, know that you can act and you can make a difference. Action takes many forms, from calling your political representatives to filing comments opposing new and awful regulations to financial support for immigrant and ally organizations to opening your home or place of worship to asylum seekers. 

Actions make a difference. Massive public outrage over a recent move to deport immigrants with medical problems led to the administration retreating from that plan. Public opposition to the first public charge regulation led to modifications that exempted school lunches and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and made other important changes. Full victory? Of course not, but these are important changes that save lives. 

Similarly, legal challenges to Trump administration policies have slowed or stopped many (but not all) of their worst moves. Legal action is crucial to defending individual rights as well as challenging awful policies. 

Three recent articles highlight individual actions that make a difference, and links point to ways you can take action today, tomorrow, this week, and throughout the year. 

Opening Homes to Asylum Seekers 

The initiative described in this article comes from New York. 

“As news of immigrant parents being separated from their children at the border filled headlines last summer, Vivien Tartter became distraught.

“So the 67-year-old psychology professor took action: She opened the doors of her Manhattan apartment to a Guatemalan family of three who had been separated at a detention center in Colorado, reunited in New York and had no place to stay….

“Tartter is one more of a small but growing number of U.S. citizens who have picked up immigrants from detention centers, driven them to bus stations and doctor appointments, shared meals with them or hosted them at their homes, sometimes for one night, sometimes for a full year.”

In Minnesota, ISAIAH works with a network of sanctuary congregations and the Faith Mennonite Church offers some assistance to asylum seekers. If you belong to a religious community, ask what they are doing and how you can help. 

Legal Action

John Keller was highlighted in a recent U of M alumni publication that focused on his work with the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota as well as his current position in the MInnesota Attorney General’s office: 

“We were committed to taking on complex cases because we believe that people deserve a second chance,” he says of his work at ILCM. During his tenure, the nonprofit expanded its mission to include public policy research and advocacy. Today the organization works with government officials, labor unions, and other organizations that support immigrants and refugees to advance immigration policies that meet the needs of local economies, while also respecting immigrants’ human rights.” 

ILCM has volunteer opportunities, including pro bono opportunities for attorneys. 

Individual Advocacy

Storm Lake, Iowa Police Chief Mark Prosser shows how individual, every day action makes a difference in the community. 

“It always starts at the top. The values and mission you create as a leader trickles down,” Cole said. “When (Prosser) says we’re about community building, he means it and he shows it.”…

“‘Our immigration laws are broken. It doesn’t matter who’s in power,’ Prosser said. ‘Let’s create a process to get (immigrants) out of the shadows” so they can live here legally.’

“While politicians seek solutions, Prosser said Storm Lake officers will continue to reach out to the newest members of their community, whether it’s buying kids ice cream cones, dropping off a bag of groceries for a needy family or stopping by a school at recess to hang out with students.

“‘I’m the mouthpiece, but our officers and investigators are the ones that make it work,’ said Prosser, who will retire on Dec. 31.”

AND if you want to help …

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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