, 18 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
"What can I do to help the children at the border?"

To all of you who've tagged/messaged/texted me over the past few days: I'm humbled by your vote of confidence. I'm just a practitioner/advocate, but happy to offer some concrete steps. #CloseTheCampsNOW

Some context first:
1. Stop pointing out that these cruel practices aren't new. The takeaway isn't Obama was bad or Trump is worse. It's that we're fighting an entrenched system that feeds on detention. Trump didn't build the machine; his administration hasn't shown much aptitude in using it.
2. Total deportation numbers are down from Obama's era. This is a combination of incompetence from this administration, and (take a bow, y'all) "The Resistance," less cooperation with ICE, more legal challenges, and people just showing up.
3. Be angry, but stop being shocked. Anger motivates, shock paralyzes. Assume that chaos and cruelty are intentional. Remember, the goal is to get kids (and parents) out of jail. They don't need crayons and teddy bears. They need their families.
It's horrible they're not getting soap and toothpaste - but remember, the singular goal must be to get them out. They're in concentration camps. Stay focused.

Now, on to some concrete things. This a non-exhaustive list, so feel free to suggest other items I can incorporate:
1. Support financially:

2. Volunteer with these organizations:

They need lawyers, interpreters, social workers, ppl to do intake. Sign up and find out how to help, either on the ground or virtually.
3. Organize marches and vigils. Hit the streets! Here's one local (Virginia) event:

Let's organize marches outside every immigrant detention center: this evil isn't just on the border. ICE wants interior enforcement?

So do we.
4. Talk to your elected officials. All the time. Every day. Volume matters (of calls, not your voice)

On the federal side: govtrack.us/congress/membe…

Demand they introduce legislation to ban private prisons and detention facilities (where the federal govt is the contracting party)
Move (and keep) detainees close to their lawyers.
Mandate secure phone lines/document submission to/from detainees
Create a public immigration defender. (If criminals get a lawyer, so should detained immigrants. If it's not a criminal proceeding, then stop incarcerating them.)
On the state/local side: openstates.org/find_your_legi…

Ban state from cooperating with ICE.
Refuse to honor detainers
Ban private prisons/detention centers (where state is the contracting party)
Raise the age for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status to 21 to be in line with federal law
Create state public immigration defender.
Outlaw/tightly regulate usurious GPS ankle-bracelet monitoring companies who charge vulnerable immigrants exorbitant fees to track them under threat of incarceration
Transparency in law enforcement process of labeling people gang members
5. Impact Litigation

Massive coordinated FOIA effort to review every government contract with private prison/detention center companies such as Geo Group or CoreCivic.
Prosecution (criminal and civil) of bad actors: those who skirt/defy due process agreements like Flores, CEO's of baby jails like Southwest Key Programs, Inc. Make detention expensive - for the business owners.
6. Messaging

Offense is the best defense here. We can't compromise on the backbone of democracy. But we're losing the war if we use their language, their terminology, their ideology. When we advocate, let's use our own positive framing:
Aspiring American.
Border prosperity.
Family-based merit.
Exchange immigration.
Come as you are.
Humanity has intrinsic merit.
Compassion is strength.
And let's attack their framing:

Merit-based means privileged.
Border security means militarization.
Killing #dueprocess at the border is the real illegal immigration.
Immigration detention is incarceration.
Family residential centers are baby jails.
Immigration restriction enables white nationalist terrorism.
People are not a line item on a balance sheet.
Cruelty is weakness. Weakness of mind, weakness of intellect, weakness of policy.
I close with words from my college professor, Sidney Rittenberg, who survived years of solitary confinement during China's horrific Cultural Revolution:
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