Editorials

How to help with America’s border crisis

An undated image provided by the Department of Homeland Security shows a page from the Office of Inspector General’s report about border detention centers. Overcrowded, squalid conditions are more widespread at migrant centers along the southern border than initially revealed, the Department of Homeland Securitys independent watchdog said on July 2, 2019. The report describes standing-room-only cells, children without showers and hot meals, and detainees clamoring desperately for release.
An undated image provided by the Department of Homeland Security shows a page from the Office of Inspector General’s report about border detention centers. Overcrowded, squalid conditions are more widespread at migrant centers along the southern border than initially revealed, the Department of Homeland Securitys independent watchdog said on July 2, 2019. The report describes standing-room-only cells, children without showers and hot meals, and detainees clamoring desperately for release. New York Times

The photo tore into hearts around the world: a father and toddler, drowned together, laying on the muddy riverbank at America’s southern border.

Every detail of the deaths of the two, Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, 35, and daughter Valeria, 23 months, is part of the growing narrative of humanitarian crisis provoked by President Trump’s sabotage of immigration policy. The power of photographic evidence can help shift narratives and politics; this is journalism’s function in a democracy.

Washington state’s government leaders require little convincing. They have flailed with limited success so far against Trump’s border policies, yet federal lawyers still defend limiting detained children’s access to toothbrushes, soap and beds.

While this battle rages, the would-be immigrants need help and hope. Frustratingly, the federal Antideficiency Act explicitly prohibits sending diapers or formula directly to migrant children’s detention facilities. Borderland migrant camps are beyond the reach of Amazon Prime.

Here are some ways to help beyond the arena of political protest. Seattle city government has helpfully collected local immigrant and refugee resources on a municipal web page. Many of the listed humanitarian and legal-aid organizations accept donations and volunteer help, and share resources with national groups. The American Red Cross’ admirable work to reconnect separated migrant families and provide supplies and medicine is helped by donations.

The Burien-based Fair Fight Immigrant Bond Fund, part of a national network of nonprofits, helps bail-eligible detainees of Tacoma’s Northwest Detention Center. Since launching in November, Fair Fight has raised more than $80,000 through donations and posted bond for 18 detainees.

Monserrat Padilla, who coordinates the fund, said she has turned away 10 applicants for bail in the last two weeks because of a lack of funds. Although the project is designed to be self-replenishing – when bond is refunded at the end of a case, it goes back to Fair Fight – immigration cases can take a year or more in court.

“You hear a very compelling case, but there’s no funding at the moment,” Padilla said.

With organizations such as Fair Fight close at hand, Puget Sound residents stirred to take action over this Trump-fueled crisis have meaningful ways to provide help.

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