Local options in place to help with border crisis

The crisis at the border has been a near daily topic of coverage ever since an April 2018 memo from then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that directed all people illegally crossing the border to be prosecuted. Part of the “zero-tolerance” policy required adults to be separated from children with whom they were travelling.

The border crisis has garnered renewed national interest in recent weeks after allegations surfaced of overcrowding and squalid conditions at Border Patrol holding facilities. Visits from political leaders have further amplified the situation.

On July 1, a group of about a dozen congressional representatives toured two Border Patrol holding shelters in Texas. On July 12 Vice President Mike Pence toured a Border Patrol holding shelter in McAllen, Texas. Each visit prompted a new round of wall-to-wall coverage lasting several days.

Today’s news cycle can be exhausting. A 2018 Pew Research Center study  found that, “seven-in ten Americans feel worn out” by the news, and emotionally intense topics such as the border crisis only add to that sensation.

Those looking to act locally can choose from groups such as Mountaineers for Progress, MorgantownNOW or WV Working Families Party. These groups self-describe as “leading the effort on immigration justice and local actions.” Just last week, Mountaineers for Progress held a local “Lights for Liberty” event July 12 in conjunction with hundreds of other locations around the globe. The event was meant to raise awareness around the detention crisis at the border and show local support for those suffering.

Organizations such as Catholic Charities and the ACLU merge local action with national reach. Both organizations have sent representatives to the border to help, offering social services and legal support, respectively.

Locally, Catholic Charities offers low cost legal immigration services such as defense work in court, primarily working with vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly. They also work on family reunification cases and help with applications for asylum, residency, and citizenship.

The ACLU suggests some direct actions that can be taken immediately by any individual such as, “write a letter to your editor, reach out to your representatives…take to social media– follow groups that are spending time on this issue and help share their messages, or donate to groups that are actively working to address the humanitarian crisis at the border.”

It is worth noting that as a federal entity, the Border Patrol is not allowed to take donations of any kind, financial or material. Concerned individuals who have driven from across the country to try and donate items such as diapers and soap at migrant shelters have been turned away.

All the organizations listed above gladly accept donations, but always do your own research when donating to a new organization, especially over the internet – as scams are a possibility. The Texas Tribune maintains a list, last updated on June 25, of organizations offering direct help to immigrants crossing the border.

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