5 ways Austinites can help support separated families


Austinites have several options to aid separated families, from volunteering to attending benefit concerts.

There will be a Families Belong Together rally at the Capitol at noon Saturday.

Austin community groups in support of reuniting more than 2,000 immigrant children with parents they were separated from at the border have come together to organize rallies, create volunteer opportunities and launch fundraisers to shine a light on the issue that’s gained international attention.

A federal judge this week ordered the government to return all children to their parents within 30 days and those younger than 5 within two weeks. Here are five ways Austinites can help support separated families:

1. Rally at Capitol

More than 40 local groups, including the Texas State Teacher’s Association and the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans are joining actions nationwide on Saturday to stand up for families and children. Austin’s Families Belong Together rally, which will have English-Spanish interpretation available, starts at noon at the state Capitol and wraps up at 3 p.m. Participants are encouraged to wear white. For more information, visit keepfamiliestogetheratx.org.

2. Benefit concert

Austin-based bands Cecilia and the Broken Hearts and Kiko Villamizar, along with female DJ collective Chulita Vinyl Club, will perform 2-6 p.m. Saturday at the Hard Luck Lounge, 3526 E. Seventh St. The concert will benefit the nonprofit group Raices, which offers free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families and refugees in Texas.

RELATED: In Rio Grande Valley, a life-altering limbo as asylum process shifts

3. Immigration training

American Gateways, one of Texas’ largest immigration legal service providers, is organizing an immigration teach-in and volunteer training July 12 for those who want to learn more about immigration detention, family separation and what they can do to help in Austin. Volunteers can help with bilingual interpretation or translating, preparing detained asylum-seekers for interviews, outreach at events or writing summaries of cases, among other duties.

An RSVP is required. Interested volunteers should contact ashleyd@americangateways.org.

RELATED: Southwest Key considered giving up contracts over family separations

4. Fundraiser for families

East Austin’s Casa Marianella, an emergency homeless shelter for recently arrived asylum-seekers and immigrants launched an online fundraiser to support their efforts in reuniting families. Contributions will aid the organization with reunification, housing, food, clothing, access to physical and mental health care and to immigration legal services for those families.

“For parents to be reunited with their children, they need to first be released from detention, and in order to be released from detention they need to have a place to stay,” Casa Marianella wrote on its fundraising site. “The federally-contracted detention centers release immigrants to Casa Marianella. By providing shelter, Casa Marianella is the first step toward family reunification.”

Visit facebook.com/casa.marianella for more information.

5. Legal volunteers sought

The Texas Civil Rights Project legal advocacy group is looking for volunteers who have paralegal or legal assistant experience and who speak Spanish, Mam, Q’eqchi’ or K’iche’ to travel to McAllen to help interview families. Volunteers without legal experience are also welcome to help spread news and updates about separated families. Sign up at texascivilrightsproject.org.

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