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Immigration policy in the U.S. is getting more cruel

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Over the past few years, we have watched the criminalization of immigration reach new levels. Cases are going to court and as we know, American justice is quite expensive, and becoming increasingly more expensive as the Trump administration continues to strip programs which help poor people access the system. 

Arrests of people for harboring, sheltering, leaving food and water, or otherwise protecting migrants have been on the rise since 2017, when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to prioritize cases covered under the harboring statute. Right now, Scott Warren is being charged with a felony for leaving water and providing food for migrants, who are forced to take increasingly dangerous routes to cross Arizona. A grand jury has indicted him on an additional felony charge. The maximum sentence for these charges is 20 years in prison.

The new conspiracy charge is notable, as conspiracy charges have been used by the government to scare and suppress social justice movements and target political dissidents. This case holds critical weight as the Trump administration targets immigrant rights leaders and those who stand with them nationwide.

Please donate to No More Deaths' legal defense campaign. No More Deaths/No mas Muertes and Humane Borders are two organizations that provide food, water, and life-sustaining shelter to migrants who are crossing the border.

Then, just when I thought it could not get worse, I read a heartbreaking series  about how the Trump administration is separating newborns from migrant mothers who deliver them in custody. The key factor in helping these mothers get their children back seems to be access to legal aid services. In that spirit, here are six migrant justice and legal aid groups seeking donations and qualified volunteers:

Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is a trusted nonprofit that provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children, families, and refugees in Texas. Money raised by RAICES goes to posting bond ($1,500 per family) so they can be released and stay together while they await their court date. Given the number of people who have been locked up by the current government, please note that, despite the fact that RAICES has recently raised significant numbers of donations through a viral Facebook fundraiser, more is always needed and necessary. If you want to help stop the bail bond system, check out this campaign. In the meantime, we are stuck with the broken bail bond system. You can contribute to the RAICES bond fund via the viral fundraiser here or on their website.

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) partners with major law firms, corporations, and bar associations to represent unaccompanied children through their immigration proceedings. They have deep presence in many of these detention centers, and have developed a specialized focus on kids. Donations go towards providing attorneys for children in detention centers to fight their deportation cases and win asylum.

Grassroots Leadership is a southwestern organization, based in Austin, Texas, that supports mothers separated from their children every step of the way, including paying to bond them out of detention so they can reunite with their families, facilitating calls with their children and loved ones, and fighting their criminal charges. They are also organizing many of the women who have been released but have not yet been reunited with their children as promised; these women are willing to lead the fight to win deportation cases and reunite with their children. They also work on ending for-profit prisons, which, as Penney Kome details for rabble.ca, is at the root of this issue. You can donate to their Community Deportation Defense & Bond Fund here

Immigrant Defenders Law Center is a California-based social justice law firm which delivers full-scale deportation defense to nearly 600 immigrants annually. They also provide legal education classes and screenings for approximately 1,300 unaccompanied children in detention each year.

Project Corazon is a coalition of various groups organizing to reunite families separated by decades of cruel immigration policies. 

The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law has been the charge to challenge the administration policies in the courts. They tried to stand in the way of provisions which would negatively impact the rights of migrant children in the lead up to the compromise to fund the U.S. government in January 2019.  They are also raising the alarm about migrant children being held in unlicensed shelters.

Image: Sasha Patkin/Flickr

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