Since we can, we must: How to help immigrants at the border and why you should

If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time angry. The past year has provided me with an almost endless supply of righteous indignation, my favorite kind of indignation. Racist tweets from our president, John Bolton’s lust for Iranian blood, and most recently the mass detention of migrants crossing the southern border have all fueled my growing rage at the state of our union.

My distance from the levers of power would seem to insulate me from any responsibility in affecting change. This a dangerous illusion. We are ultimately responsible for the policies of our government. We inherit every great act of the United States, and every unmentionable embarrassment of our past and present.

Despite this, doing nothing is most common form of political expression in our country. In 2018 the highest percentage of voters since 1914 turned out for a midterm election, and still more than half the eligible population stayed home. Only 9 percent of college freshmen said they had a “very good chance” of participating in a protest while in college according to the American Freshman Survey. This statistic is up from previous years, and yet still somehow shockingly low. A Pew research poll said that 69 percent of Americans felt that elected officials were disinterested in what “people like me” think. These are not the statistics of a healthy democracy.

The case of our self-inflicted immigration crisis seems especially hopeless. Protestors are being arrested. ICE has turned away donations of blankets and food. It’s enough to make you throw up your hands and accept defeat. But as tempting as it can be to angrily surrender, we are not powerless.

There are people out there working every day to end these practices. By voting, donating to activist groups, and showing up to protests, we can help them make change. And since we can do these things, we must.

Here’s what we can do.

VOTE!:

We live in a liberal, progressive state. The Mayor of Seattle, Jenny A. Durkan, somewhat famously said “Seattle is not afraid of immigrants and refugees.” This was after Trump threatened to bus detained migrants to several sanctuary cities around the country.

Governor Jay Inslee has consistently spoken out against Trump’s immigration policy and refused to provide state police support for the ICE raids scheduled this week.

Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray both have F- grades from Numbers USA, an immigration reform activist organization. The group promotes racist policies that actively harm the most vulnerable migrants trying to enter the country. They support ICE detention and deportation policies and suggest local police forces should be organized with ICE to arrest undocumented migrants and transport them to ICE custody. The group is determined to end the visa lottery, birthright citizenship, and slow immigration to a trickle.

The grade cards they provide can give us an idea of which politicians are fighting against the most inhumane, racist and classist immigration policies in our nation.

Anyone with an F grade From Numbers USA needs our vote. We need to keep these people in office to continue the fight against harsh immigration policies.

DONATE!:

The Supreme Court in the Citizens United v. FEC case determined that spending money is essential to the right of free speech. We may not have the same financial recourses as multinational corporations, but our limited funds can still impact the world, if directed to the right places.

In Washington State and nationwide there are non-profit grassroots organizations lobbying congress for change, protesting and providing pro-bono legal assistance to children caught up in the immigration system.   

Here are some of my favorites:

NWDC Resistance: An immigrant-led grassroots organization out of Washington State fighting to end deportations and the detention of undocumented migrants, specifically at the ICE Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, by organizing protests and lobbying the Washington State government. You can donate directly at their website www.NWDCresistance.org.   

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project: An organization out of Seattle that provides legal assistance and advocacy for undocumented migrants in ICE custody or facing deportation, as well as community education for migrants living in the state. They accept donations at www.NWIRP.org.

Immigrant Defense Project: A New York basednon-profit advocating for Immigrant rights, providing legal help and advocacy, and organizing in immigrant communities across the country. Donate at www.immigrantdefenseproject.org.

GO OUT AND PROTEST!:

Some people don’t have the funds to donate, but they can still help! Embrace your first amendment right to assembly and join the NWDC Resistance at one of their many protests outside the detention center in Tacoma. With more than thirty events just this year there is an opportunity for anyone willing to help change our immigration system through demonstration and community organizing. We all must be a part of the change we want to see. Anger is useless without action, so get out and take some! Find out about upcoming events at www.NWDCResistance.org.