Trump signed an order to stop separating kids from parents at the border, but 1000s are still in detention centers away from their families. We spoke to United We Dream founder Cristina Jimenez about what YOU can do to help them.
As we continue to watch the news coverage of the harrowing situation at the United States’ southern border, it’s easy to feel helpless. Over 2000 children have been taken by force from their families, who have tried to come to the country to seek asylum. And most of the families have no idea where their young children have been taken — some 1000s of miles away. Unlike Congress, which is doing nothing to put an end to this problem, there is plenty YOU can do. HollywoodLife spoke to Cristina Jimenez, the founder of United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led community in the US, at the VH1 Trailblazers Awards on June 22, and she shared some key ways to help the children as they continue to be housed in detention centers away from their parents.
“The most important thing is to join organizations and to join advocacy efforts that are happening right now,” Jimenez told us. “People can join United We Dream by sending a quick text, ‘Here to stay’ to 877877. And calling your member of Congress to make sure that we are communicating we don’t stand for what’s happening right now: criminalizing people that are coming here seeking refuge from other countries. And we need ICE agents and border patrol agents to be held accountable for what they’re doing. We cannot be spending our taxpaying dollars for a police force that is terrorizing communities. We need that money for schools and community clinics and other resources that our communities need. So, we need these agencies to be held accountable and defunded. And that’s something that members of Congress have the power to do, which is why we believe it’s an important thing that we can do.”
There are other organizations you can volunteer with. The Chicago-based Young Center is seeking adults (21+) who want to become child advocates for unaccompanied immigrant children. They are currently looking for child advocates who speak Spanish (but they could always use people who speak Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Bengali, and Romanian). Note that there is an intense vetting process, including an FBI background check, before they will allow you to volunteer.
American Gateway, a organization devoted to protecting the rights of detained immigrants and asylum seekers, has three locations in Texas. They’re currently seeking lawyers and paralegals, as well as administrative assistants, psychological counselors, and interpreters and translators. If you’re not near the border, there are plenty of other ways to volunteer. Call your representatives and senators! Let them know you’re angry and that this is unacceptable. You can find the contact information for your elected officials HERE. And donate to advocacy organizations (including the ones we’ve written about) if you can. Anything counts.
“Parents are, some of the family members are very desperate to make sure they’re reunited with these kids,” Jimenez said. “It’s very unbearable what’s going on. Families are suffering, kids are suffering like never in their life, and this is a moment for the community to activate to make sure we push back and that we dismantle the system of oppression. What I would say to Donald Trump is that he ought to be fearful that the majority of this country disagrees with his vision and his agenda.”
Cristina Jimenez was one of the many empowering honorees at VH1’s Trailblazer Honors, which will air on VH1 on Thursday, June 28th at 9:30 PM ET!