You Can Help Give the Children in Immigration Detention Centers a Gift This Holiday Season

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Earlier this year, the United States government was ordered to release all children detained at the border by July 26th. However, the deadline has long passed with still nearly 13,000 children in immigration detention centers. It’s almost certain that these kids will spend the holiday season away from their families and loved ones but one senator is trying to give them a little cheer.

Senator José Rodríguez of Texas’ 29th District has launched a campaign to purchase soccer balls for the children of Tornillo’s Detention Facility Center. Termed the “Gift for Good Drive,” an Amazon Wishlist has been started to collect donations of size 5 regulation soccer balls. Each item on the list is priced at under $20 and there is no limit on how many you can purchase. The balls will be gifted to the children on Christmas day, offering them a much-needed dose of normalcy during the nightmare they currently endure.

Though protestors have attempted to bring gifts to the detention centers before, the children have not been allowed any toys.

Senator Rodríguez, who serves the area surrounding the Tornillo Tent City, received specific permission in order to arrange this donation. “We’ve seen a lot of people who show up over there, protesters and others, with gifts for the kids. They don’t let them provide the gifts so the kids never see anything,” Senator Rodríguez shared with local news station KTSM. “So we were able to work out this arrangement with them, to permit us to do this drive for the kids. We want them to have a Christmas.”

The pain of being away from their families is no doubt unbearable, especially this time of year. While Senator Rodríguez and his staff have been using litigation to fight the continued detention, they wanted to do more. “We want them to know that there are people that care for them,” he explained. “We’re going to do everything we can for them to get some kind of Christmas cheer in their lives.”

In these tent cities, children are allowed access to legal counsel and medical treatments. They have also been upgraded to offer televised sporting events and religious services. Still, no matter the amenities offered, the detention of these children is a violation of their human rights.

The tent city now houses an estimated 2,400 children but it is well over capacity. Located along the Mexico-US border, Tornillo’s detention center is more populated than the city it inhabits. The Department of Health and Human Services claims that none of the Tornillo children were part of the family separations. However, authorities haven’t allowed reporters to interview the kids to verify this. The donation period for the “Gift for Good Drive” only continues through December 13th. Still, there are other ways to help these children.

1. Fostering

Many children who are detained have family in the US who can care for them upon their release. However, there are a number who have no one so shelters and foster families are needed. If you are able to house a child or pregnant young lady, fostering is the best way you can help.

To start the process, contact your local welfare agency to find out how to become licensed as a foster parent. After this is done, you’ll be able to work with organizations such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Lutheran Social Services for Children and Families to have a child placed in your home.

2. Volunteer your time

Many of the children who arrive at the border only speak Spanish. If you are bilingual, a huge way you can help these kids is by volunteering your time as a translator.

With your translation skills, you can help translate in the courtroom. These children will inevitably go before a judge to have their immigration case heard. Unfortunately, the majority of them will do so without legal counsel. Your ability to translate will help these children have a voice during this confusing time.

3. Financial Support

Unfortunately, these detention centers do not accept donations of clothes, food or toys. So, if you’re looking to donate something other than your home or skills, money is the best way to go.

There are plenty of amazing causes out there dedicated specifically to helping these children. For example, Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) works to provide representation to children in immigration court.

The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights is another advocate for children who arrive unaccompanied to the States. They have started a project specifically for children and families detained at the border.

Finally, the Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services is an El Paso-based organization and the largest source of free and low-cost immigration aid in West Texas.

No matter how you choose to help, your effort will remind these children that we haven’t forgotten them and that we won’t stop until they’re all home.


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