10 powerful ways we can help immigrant children separated from their parents

Print Friendly and PDF

[Update: If you're reading this in June 2019, there is a current article here.]

Their parents couldn't hear their cries, but now, America has. On Monday Propublica released heart-wrenching audio reportedly recorded inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility, which captured the cries of young children separated from their parents after coming to the United States from Central America. The children are believed to be between 4 and 10 years old, and their desperate sobs are harrowing.

The haunting audio documents a practice a majority of Americans are against. A recent poll by CBS News found 67% of Americans say it's unacceptable to separate children from their parents after they cross the border.

Across the country mothers and fathers hear the voices of their own children in those of the immigrant children on the recording, and so many are asking each other 'what can we do?'

It may seem like an overwhelming situation, but there are powerful actions any parent can take to create change for the children who are crying for their parents in a scary new place. We can't hug them and hold them close, or reunite them with their moms and dads right now, but we can do the following:

1. Donate to The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES)

A non-profit that aims to reunite families and help kids feel safe, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) needs funds to fulfil its mission. The Texas-based nonprofit aims to "directly fund the bond necessary to get parents out of detention and reunited with their children while awaiting court proceedings" and "ensure legal representation for EVERY child in Texas' immigration courts."

2. Call your representatives

As much as many parents wish we could tear down those chain link walls and put babies back with their mothers, we, as individuals, don't have the power to do that or to stop it from happening in the future. The U.S. government does have that power though, and the American people have the power to elect them. You can call your senator and let them know that you will not stand for this.

If you don't know what number to call, you can punch your zip code into the ACLU's website and it will route your call to the appropriate representative. If you don't know what to say, the ACLU has prepared a script. Just say hello to the congressional staffer who picks up the phone and tell then you want to see

3. Encourage others to call their representatives

Tell your friends that you've made that call and ask them to call, too. A lot of people have never called a politician's office before, so let those in your circle know about how the ACLU will route their call and pass on the short script for those who get flustered on the phone.

4. Find a local protest

When we stand together our voices are amplified. If you're looking to join in a protest of immigrant family separation policies, check out Families Belong Together. The organization has created a growing list of rallies and vigils in support of the families.

5. Organize your own protest

If there is no protest or rally organized in your area, you may want to organize your own. Father-of-two Ron Piovesan organized a protest in the Bay Area. "There's a lot of people who are very angry with what's going on; they're feeling helpless," he told NBC of his Father's Day protest.

According to NBC, "Piovesan passed out slips of paper encouraging people to take action, to call their representatives and donate to legal aid groups trying to help immigrant detainees."

The Community Toolbox at the University of Kansas offers an in-depth guide to planning a public demonstration. The guide's authors note the most important part of organizing a planned rally, vigil, march or sit-in is planning. Call your City Hall to find out if you need permits for the space you plan to use and let the local police know where and for how long you will be protesting.

Communicating with your fellow protesters is also important. Start by inviting anyone you think may share your passion for reuniting children with their parents and stopping future separations. Then figure out an effective communication system, like a group text or Facebook group, to keep participants in the loop and allow you to delegate responsibilities and coordinate times.

If you're trying to reach legislators, consider protesting outside the State House, but a protest in your own neighbourhood can also be of service by educating the public. Be prepared to give people practical information, like the ACLU phone script, and the number for your local representative. Picket signs let people know that this isn't just a gathering, it's a protest, so bust out the Sharpies and cardboard and get creative.

6. Donate to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

You may have seen mom-of-two Chrissy Teigen tweeting about this recently. She and husband John Legend called for concerned fellow parents to donate to the organization which is raising money to defend asylum-seeking immigrant parents who've been separated from their children.

7. Volunteer

If you've got experience in immigration law of translation, organizations like the Texas Civil Rights Project can put you to work in the fight to reunite parents and children. They are reportedly in need of translators who speak "Spanish, Mam, Q'eqchi' or K'iche'" and people with have paralegal or legal assistant experience in McAllen, TX.

8. Donate to Together Rising

Motherly previously reported on the efforts of "Love Warrior" author Glennon Doyle and her charity, Together Rising, in raising funds to help these children get the legal support they need. The organization has already "funded the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project for an angel team of four lawyers and 3 legal assistants to represent children detained in Arizona detention centers and their families; and the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights in order to cover the costs of a lawyer and social worker who will be operating around the country and on the border to provide advocacy and healing to unaccompanied, detained children."

Now, Together Rising is helping other organizations dedicated to helping these kids, including Kids In Need of Defence and RAICES.

9. Keep talking about it

According to CBS News, 90% of Democrats polled find the practice of separating kids and families to be unacceptable. Republicans are "more divided" with 39% saying it's unacceptable and 1 in 5 saying they have not heard enough about it to say either way. If someone in your circle hasn't heard about this, tell them, and tell them that you're not standing for it.

10. Teach your children empathy

With this story pouring out of every smartphone, television and radio in our country, our children may be worried about the idea that kids are being taken from their parents. Parents may need to reassure their kids that they are safe, but there are other topics of conversation that can help our kids keep future children safe. By talking about empathy and kindness with our kids we can raise kind, empathic people who won't let this happen to the next generation's children.


[Update: June 20, 2018, adding additional links to charitable organizations]

Additional organizations currently accepting donations:

American Immigration Council: Tells Motherly it has "staff on the ground at the Dilley, Texas family detention center helping families, and we are documenting the terrible conditions of detention and bringing lawsuits to challenge them." Provides pro-bono lawyers to people in detention through the Immigration Justice Campaign.

Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project: Provides "emergency legal aid to refugee families".

Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services: Provides "free and low cost immigration services".

Justice for Our Neighbors: Provides low income families with "affordable, high quality immigration legal services".

Kids In Need of Defense: According to its website, KIND "partners with major law firms, corporations, law schools, and bar associations to create a nationwide pro bono network to represent unaccompanied children through their immigration proceedings."

Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center: States it is "dedicated to serving the legal needs of low income immigrants, including refugees, victims of crime, and families seeking reunification."

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: The faith-based organization "works with refugees, children, and migrants to ensure they are protected and welcomed into local communities throughout the United States."

South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR): A joint project of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, ProBAR "is a national effort to provide pro bono legal services to asylum seekers detained in South Texas by the United States government. "

The Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights: Provides independent Child Advocates to stand up for unaccompanied immigrant children and "champion the child's best interests".

You might also like:

The very best of Motherly — delivered when you need it most.
Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

People often say that having a second child doesn't much add to the workload of parenting. There's no steep learning curve: You already know how to make a bottle, install a car seat and when to call the pediatrician. And you're already doing laundry, making lunches and supervising bath time—so throwing a second kid in the tub isn't a big deal.

Except that it is. Having a second child doesn't just mean attaching a second seat to your stroller. Adding a whole new person to your family is more complicated than that, and it's okay to say that it is hard.

FEATURED VIDEO

A study out of Australia disputes the popular idea that after making the transition from people to parents, making the jump from one child to two is easy. The researchers found that having a second child puts a lot of pressure on parents' time and their mental health, and mothers bear the brunt of the burden.

When looking at heterosexual couples, the researchers found that before a first child is born both partners feel equal amounts of "time pressure," but once the child is born, that pressure grows, more so for mothers than fathers.

Basically, parents feel psychological stress when they feel they don't have enough time to do all they need to. One baby makes both parents feel more stress, but mom's increase is more than dad's. When a second baby comes, that time pressure doubles for both parents, and since mom already had more than dad, there's now a gulf between them.

The researchers behind this study—Leah Ruppanner, Francisco Perales and Janeen Baxter—say that after a first child is born, a mother's mental health improves, but after a second child, it declines.

Writing for The Conversation, the trio explains:

"Second children intensify mothers' feelings of time pressure. We showed that if mothers did not have such intense time pressures following second children, their mental health would actually improve with motherhood. Fathers get a mental health boost with their first child, but also see their mental health decline with the second child. But, unlike mothers, fathers' mental health plateaus over time. Clearly, fathers aren't facing the same chronic time pressure as mothers over the long-term."

The researchers say that even when mothers reduce their work time, the time pressure is still there and that "mothers cannot shoulder the time demands of children alone."

Adding a second child to the family isn't just a matter of throwing a few more socks in the laundry: It means a schedule that is already stretched is now filling up with twice as many appointments, twice as many school functions. Mothers only have 24 hours in the day, and as much as we wish we could add a couple extra hours per child, we can't.

Time simply can't change to help us, but society can. As the researchers noted, when time pressure is removed, motherhood actually improves mental health.

We love our lives, we love our kids, we love parenting, but there is only so much of our day to go around.

Ruppanner, Perales and Baxter suggest that if society were to help mothers out more, our mental health (and therefore our children's wellbeing as well) would improve even after two or three kids. "Collectivising childcare – for example, through school buses, lunch programs and flexible work policies that allow fathers' involvement – may help improve maternal mental health," the researchers explain, adding that "it is in the national interest to reduce stressors so that mothers, children and families can thrive."

Whether you're talking about Australia or America, that last bit is so true, but this research proves that the myth about second-time parenthood isn't. Even if you already have the skills and the hand-me-downs, having a second child isn't as easy as it is sometimes made out to be.

We can love our children and our lives and still admit when things aren't easy.

[This post was first published December 18, 2018.]


News

As parents we don't start our families thinking we will lose our partner or a child when they are still in their prime, but that is what happened to Vanessa Bryant when tragedy struck her family on Sunday. We feel incredible pain and sadness for Vanessa who is now dealing with the unimaginable at less than a year postpartum. It's impossible to conceive of the grief that Vanessa and her daughters are feeling today and our hearts are with them.

America is mourning the loss of the basketball superstar and his daughter Gianna, who was only 13 years old. The two were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

FEATURED VIDEO

Gianna, or Gigi as her family called her, brought her father back to basketball after his retirement and was showing the world that girls can be amazing athletes.

As her father explained on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Gianna's goal was to play in the WNBA and her father was sure she could make that happen. Bryant told Kimmel: "The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans will come up to me, and she'll be standing next to me. And they'll be like, 'Man, you gotta have a boy. You and V gotta have a boy, man, have somebody carry on your tradition, the legacy.' And she's like, 'Oy, I got this. You don't need no boy for that. I got this." And I'm like, 'That's right. Yes, you do. You got this.'"

Like her father, Gianna was an incredibly talented basketball player. Her basketball teammate, Alyssa Altobelli, along with her parents, Keri and Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli were also killed. It's an unimaginable loss of young talent and knowledge for the basketball community, a nation and the victims' families.

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant just welcomed their fourth child, baby Capri Kobe Bryant, in July 2019. "We are beyond excited that our baby girl 'Koko' has arrived!!," Kobe announced on Instagram.

The hearts of an entire nation and much of the world are with them in this terrible moment. Bryant was beloved and the news of his death and Gianna's is hitting many people incredibly hard.

If you are having trouble coping with the news today mama, remember that It is okay to turn it off. It is okay to go offline and turn your attention to your family. It's okay to talk about how hard this is hitting you and to take time to give yourself some extra care as you process this. Grief looks different for everyone and even those who never met Bryant were touched by his cultural impact and legacy.

News

If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama. From reality TV stars to bloggers and A-list actresses, there is a baby boom happening in celebrity circles right now.

Amy Schumer, Snooki and Christina Anstead are just a few of the celebrity moms who recently welcomed little ones and there are a ton more who are still waiting to meet their kiddos.

Here are some fellow parents-to-be expecting in 2020:

America Ferrera will be a mom of 2 in 2020 

America Ferrera and her husband Ryan Piers Williams already have one little boy, 1-year-old Sebastian, and soon he will be a big brother!

"Welcoming Baby #2 in 2020! 🥰" she captioned a family photo released early in the year.

Congratulations, mama!

Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson will be a dad in 2020! 

Moden Family may be ending but Jesse Tyler Ferguson's family is just beginning. In January the sitcom star announced he's expecting a baby with his husband, Justin Mikita.

"This is something I haven't even mentioned to anyone, if we could just keep it between the three of us and you all, but I'm actually expecting a baby in July with my husband," he said on The Late Late Show.


Laura Prepon is expecting her second child 

Actors Laura Prepon and Ben Foster share 2-year-old daughter Ella and will soon share one more little one.

Prepon announced her pregnancy on Instagram:. "We are so excited to announce that our family is growing. Life is beautiful!"

Report: Michelle Williams is engaged + pregnant 🎉

Mom of one Michelle Williams will soon be a mom of two!

News of the actress' pregnancy and engagement to Tony Award-winning director Thomas Kail was first reported by People and confirmed by E! News. The actress split from her former husband musician Phil Elverum nearly a year ago.

Williams and Kail previously worked together when Kail directed Fosse/Verdon, in which Williams starred. She won an Emmy for that performance and her powerful Emmy acceptance speech inspired working moms everywhere by acknowledging "what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feels safe enough to voice them, and respected enough that they'll be heard."

Williams' incredible speech ended with a shout out to her 14-year-old daughter, Matilda, who she shared with the late Heath Ledger: "Matilda, this is for you, like everything else."

Matilda was just 2 years old when she and Williams lost Ledger in 2008.

In the years since his death, Williams has protected their daughter's privacy with the same intensity she brings to her work. In addition to her Emmy win, she has won a Golden Globe and been nominated for four Academy Awards since becoming a mother.

Williams has demonstrated that motherhood is no impediment to professional success and we can't wait to see what she does as a mother of two!

Hope Solo is pregnant with twins! 🎉

Soccer superstar Hope Solo just announced she is pregnant...and expecting twins!

She broke the news during the beIN Sports show Weekend Winners, which she co-hosts.

She's having a boy and a girl and can't wait to meet her "miniature soccer team".

"Yes, my husband and I get to practice equality from the very beginning with one boy and one girl," Solo explained during the segment, which was posted to Twitter.

This is a rainbow pregnancy for Solo, who miscarried twins in 2018.

We are so happy for Hope and her husband, former NFL player Jerramy Stevens.

Can't wait to see this mini soccer team in action!

Bekah Martinez is pregnant again! 🎉

Bekah Martinez first pregnancy announcement shocked the world in September 2018 and now she's just announced she's expecting again!

The Bachelor alum and her partner Grayston Leonard are having another baby, as seen in a sonogram Bekah posted to Instagram.

"Thankful," she captioned the pic.

The baby will join older sister Ruth who was born in February.

Jenna Dewan and Steve Kazee are having a baby! 

The last two years have seen a lot of changes for Jenna Dewan. In April 2018 she and former husband Channing Tatum announced they had "lovingly chosen to separate as a couple". Later that year she was publicly linked to boyfriend Steve Kazee.

Now, another change is on the horizon for Dewan as she and Kazee are expecting their first child together. The baby will join 6-year-old Everly, who Dewan co-parents with Tatum.

"We are beyond overjoyed and couldn't be happier to be expanding our family!" Dewan and Kazee told People.

That's pretty much all the couple is saying at this point, and we can't blame them. They've confirmed the pregnancy to media outlets, but haven't shared much or made any announcements on Instagram but we can't wait to see what Dewan decides to share as she embarks on this journey.

Every pregnancy is different, so even though she's not a first-time mom, Dewan may be in for some surprises. The one thing we know for sure is that her life is about to change again, in a big way.

Congratulations to Jenna and Steve! 🎉

Eva Amurri Martino will soon be a mom of 3!

Blogger Eva Amurri Martino, aka Happily Eva After, just announced she and her sportscaster husband Kyle Martino and expecting a their third baby.

"I'm so thrilled to announce our most exciting collab yet. Head to HappilyEvaAfter.com for the full video and reveal," she wrote in an Instagram caption teasing the announcement.

On her blog she wrote: "Our family is ecstatic to share this 'collab' that has been brewing now for several months!"

Baby no. 3 will join the couple's two older children, 2-year-old Major James and 5-year-old Marlowe.

Congrats Eva!

[A version of this post was originally published October 21, 2018. It has been updated. ]

News

When infectious diseases make headlines parents naturally get a little worried, and this week coronavirus is in the news constantly. The coronavirus has infected more than 600 people worldwide, though mostly in China. As of Jan. 23, Chinese authorities have reported 17 deaths from the virus so far. Only two cases have been confirmed in the U.S. and officials are monitoring 63 suspected cases.

Here's what you need to know, mama.

1. Don't panic.

According to the World Health Organization the coronavirus outbreak is not an international public health emergency.

"CDC believes the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low at this time, but the situation is evolving rapidly," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on a conference call with media on Friday. "We have our best people working on this problem," Messonnier explained, adding that we will likely see more cases in the coming days.

FEATURED VIDEO

2. There have been no fatalities in children.

The youngest victim of a confirmed case of novel coronavirus is 36 years old. Most of the fatal cases in China have been in people over 60 and more men than women have been impacted.

3. The family of coronaviruses is a spectrum of severity.

According to the CDC, most people will be infected with a coronavirus at some point in their lives. The common strains of coronavirus cause "moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold" while more severe strains, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrom (MERS) can be fatal.

The strain that is making headlines is a severe and novel coronavirus. It's new and the similarities to influenza make it difficult for experts to distinguish it from all the other respiratory illnesses floating around this time of year.

4. There is a test for it.

When public health officials suspect someone may have coronavirus they can send respiratory and serum samples to the CDC and find out if it's coronavirus or just the flu within about 24 hours.

5. There are steps to take for prevention.

To prevent the spread of the virus the U.S. State Department has issued its most severe travel advisory for the area of China (the province of Hubei, where the city of Wuhan is) most impacted by the coronavirus.

The CDC offers the following tips for protecting your family from the coronavirus (as well as other respiratory illnesses):

  • "Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds."
  • "Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands."
  • "Avoid close contact with people who are sick."
Bottom line: Don't panic, mama. The illness is likely to be in the headlines for months, but that doesn't mean we need to live in fear. We just need to be proactive and keep washing those little hands.
News
Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.