Families Divided

Here’s a list of organizations that are mobilizing to help the influx of immigrants crossing the Texas-Mexico border

Government agencies are grappling to respond to the number of immigrants coming into the country. Many tax-funded shelters housing immigrants are overcrowded, and there are reports some have substandard living conditions. We’ve compiled a list of organizations that are mobilizing to help.

Families outside a tent at a temporary migrant holding area set up by Customs and Border Protection under the Paso del Norte International Port of Entry between Juarez and El Paso, on March 27, 2019.
Texplainer

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(Note: This article originally ran in 2018 as controversy surrounded the separation of families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. It has been updated in June 2019 amid growing reports about substandard conditions inside facilities holding immigrants.)

Migrant holding shelters around the nation have made headlines for their unsanitary — and sometimes dangerous — living conditions in recent months. At one facility in McAllen, there were reports of water that tasted like bleach and sick children without enough clothing. At another in El Paso, 250 infants, children and teens spent nearly a month without adequate food or water.

An unprecedented migrant surge has overwhelmed border patrol facilities and left processing centers strapped — leading to a fiery debate among advocates and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on how to best handle the influx. One Texas Republican congressman said the condition of shelters in his state were the worst he’s ever seen, while another Democratic member of Congress compared the taxpayer-funded shelters to concentration camps.

More than 144,000 migrants were apprehended or denied entry into the U.S. last month — the largest number in 13 years. More than half of them were families with children, and about 8% were unaccompanied minors. Last month, Texas shelters held more than 5,800 migrant children.

On Saturday, a Democratic state representative tweeted that border patrol officials told him that they were not accepting donations for immigrant children. Still, we’ve compiled a list of organizations that are mobilizing to try to help children separated from their parents and asylum seekers at the Texas-Mexico border:

  • American Gateways provides legal services and representation to detained parents. It's seeking volunteers to represent low-income individuals and families.

  • Angry Tias & Abuelas delivers financial support to local shelters; transportation to and from bus stations, airports and shelters; and emergency food, water, clothing and toiletries to individuals and families seeking asylum. They are accepting donations.
  • Annunciation House shelters families detained and separated by ICE on the El Paso/Juarez border.

  • Baker Ripley’s team of immigration attorneys is providing free or low-cost legal services throughout the Houston immigrant community.

  • The Humanitarian Respite Center for Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley provides a place for men, women and children to rest, have a warm meal, shower, change into clean clothes, as well as receive medicine and other supplies.

  • Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services says it’s the only full-service immigration legal aid clinic serving low-income immigrants and refugees in the southwestern U.S.

  • Good Neighbor Settlement House has a respite center in Brownsville operating 24/7. The center is accepting donations like water bottles, juice boxes, animal crackers and peanut butter crackers to hand out to people awaiting their asylum hearings.

  • Human Rights First is one of the nation’s largest providers of pro bono legal representation for asylum-seekers, including families and people in detention in Texas, California, New York and Washington D.C.
  • Immigrant Families Together works to bond out asylum seekers and reunite them with their children. It also provides food to families and government and foster-agency-approved housing to expedite reunifications. The group is accepting donations.

  • Immigrant Justice Now is working to provide supplies, like bus tickets, Pedialyte, shoes, prepaid cellphones and underwear, to immigrant families and children.

  • Interfaith Welcome Coalition assists refugees, asylum seekers and at-risk immigrants. They have an overnight shelter at Travis Park Methodist Church and help migrants get transportation — buses or planes — as they travel to other places through San Antonio. 

  • Justice for Our Neighbors provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrant individuals and families in Texas.

  • Kids In Need of Defense partners with major law firms, corporations and bar associations to create a nationwide pro bono network to represent unaccompanied children through their immigration proceedings. Volunteers don’t need to have immigration law experience.

  • La Posada Providencia in San Benito runs a shelter for people in the legal process of seeking asylum, residency or some other legal alternatives.  

  • La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) provides low-cost legal services and deportation legal defense to immigrant children, families and refugees in Texas. They also organize to reunite families that have been separated at the border. 

  • Through their Project Corazon, Lawyers for Good Government has sent nearly 40 volunteer attorneys to the border over the past year. Their team has also provided remote assistance to individuals needing help with credible fear interviews, brief-writing and remote bond proceedings. They are accepting donations.
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services has a Welcome & Respite program that takes in migrants recently released by ICE at bus stations to offer them hot meals, a place to sleep, assistance organizing their  journey and shoelaces. They also provide both short-term and long-term foster services for unaccompanied migrant children.
  • The El Paso-based Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center provides legal representation to asylum seekers. It’s accepting donations.

  • RAICES is a nonprofit that provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children, families and refugees in Texas. It’s accepting donations and volunteers at its website.

  • South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project is looking for volunteers and attorneys (even ones not experienced in immigration law) to provide legal services to asylum seekers detained in South Texas.

  • Texas Civil Rights Project is looking for bilingual attorneys who can help represent detained and separated parents during their immigration proceedings.

  • Texas Impact’s “Courts & Ports” program takes small groups to Brownsville every week for court observation, ministers to asylum-seekers awaiting entry into the U.S., and volunteers at direct-service sites.

  • Texas RioGrande Legal Aid provides provides free legal services to low-income people seeking immigration assistance. 

  • Team Brownsville is a nonprofit at the border that delivers food to asylum-seekers at the international bridges who have been blocked from seeking asylum in the U.S.
  • The Children’s Immigration Law Academy has pro bono attorneys representing children in immigration-related proceedings. It’s also providing specialized training to legal service providers and volunteers who are serving unaccompanied immigrant children.

  • The Human Rights Initiative of North Texas provides free legal services to immigrants who are seeking asylum in the U.S. and immigrants who are victims of violence.

  • The Migrant Center for Human Rights is providing free and low-cost legal services for detained asylum seekers in Texas.

  • The Thanks-Giving Foundation is taking volunteers and donations to help with the Oak Lawn Methodist Church Respite Center. The center is where some of the overflow asylum seekers are being sent from El Paso while en route to their families and sponsors in the U.S.

  • The Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition supports refugees by providing them with access to phones, restrooms, showers, laundry and warm meals. 

  • YMCA International Services has teams of lawyers visiting detention centers, adjudicates many migrant release and asylum cases, and provides resettlement services like cash assistance and case management for those receiving asylum. They are located in the Houston area.
  • The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights is accepting donations that will go toward providing more child advocates for immigrant kids inside the detention centers weekly and accompany them to immigration proceedings.

  • Together Rising is collecting money that'll go toward defenders, prosecutors and advocates who are working to reunify immigrant children with their families.

What are we missing? Let us know at asamuels@texastribune.org.