How to Help Families in Detention (Alt-Title: How to Deal with the Unmitigated Shitstorm at the Border)

Are you feeling angry, lost, frustrated, and/or helpless about the situation at the border? Do you want to support and empower the children who are being unceremoniously locked in cages but feel powerless to do so?

We’re mad as hell. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of suggested actions, (and we’re looking for more, so please drop good ideas in the comments). In the meantime, here are a few ideas about how to help stop this atrocity.

Kindly note: We’ve kept our list on the legal side of the spectrum, but  insurgency is looking increasingly tempting with every passing day.

Report and Share ICE Raids

Find your local hotline for reporting ICE raids. If you are aware of any raids at workplaces, schools, churches, neighborhoods, or on public transit, report it to the hotline immediately.

Sign up for email or text alerts regarding local ICE raids. When you get a notification of a local ICE raid, notify those around you immediately and disseminate the information to your networks.

Know Your Rights (and Help Others Learn Theirs)

If you don’t know immigration rights, learn them. Read this document from Immigrant Defense Project and Center for Constitutional Rights about Defending Against ICE Raids and Community Arrests.

You can also check out these Know Your Rights fliers from Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. They also have safety plans in English, Spanish, and Somali.

Network Up

If you haven’t already, expand your social media networks. Follow all of the local organizations that are working to end detention and to advocate for immigrant rights.

To make sure you see posts on Facebook, click the “following” drop down menu and select “See first” so that important alerts are not lost in the algorithms.

 

[Image description: screenshot of Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network Facebook page. There is a button in the lower lefthand corner of the header image that says “Following.” From this button a drop down menu appears. The option “See first” is highlighted.]

 

You may be surprised by the types of organizations that are doing immigration work. Search not only for immigration networks, but also for other types of organizations with a stake in immigrant rights. In our area, these include: legal advocacy organizations, religious (often Muslim or Sikh) organizations, cultural solidarity networks (often Latinx, Somali, and Syrian), prison/detention abolitionist networks, etc.

Volunteer

Consider volunteering for many of the above types of organizations or networks. If you are multilingual or have a legal background, your services will be particularly useful. If you do not have either, you may be useful in organizing protests or direct actions, filing paperwork or transcribing for a legal advocacy org, performing intakes, creating care packages, leafleting, gathering signatures for petitions, holding or organizing a fundraiser, etc. Call or email your local organizations, tell them about your skillset, and ask if they have a volunteer position for you. Be realistic about whether you can accept on ongoing position or can only volunteer for a weekend. (It takes a lot of time and energy for orgs to train you, so don’t take an ongoing position if you can’t meaningfully commit the time.)

Register to Vote, If You’re Able

Are you registered to vote? Find out here. If you are legally able to vote, get registered. Get your documents together so that you can register, and come November vote in all local, state, and federal elections. Already registered? Talk to friends and family to make sure they are registered.

 

Call Your Reps

Call your local representatives. Here’s how to find them.

If your local reps are already supportive of detention abolition, call the DOJ hotline. Feel free to use this script or come up with your own.

[Image description: Screenshot reading Call the DOJ main comment line: 202-353-1555 Here is a sample script to help you make your call: My name is [NAME] and I live in [CITY/STATE]. I am calling to tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions that I do not support his decision in the Matter of A-B. With this order, the Trump administration has turned its back on some of the most vulnerable people in the world. I demand the attorney general stop his anti-immigrant agenda. I, and many other citizens, stand against hate and xenophobia — and demand that the Department of Justice do the same. ]

Credit to: Southern Poverty Law Center

Dispel the Myths

Are your friends and families and casual acquaintances and coworkers aware of what is happening? Are they sharing fake news? Do they know how to help? Share this list with them. Share real news with them. Engage in conversations so that you can dispel falsehoods, stay up to date on correct information, learn about local actions, and share tips about how to help.

Follow reliable news sources so that you are up to date on the latest accurate information about immigration detention. And learn how to spot fake news.

[Image description: How to spot fake news. Consider the source: Click away from the story to investigate the site, its mission and it’s contact info. Read beyond: Headlines can be outrageous in an effort to get clicks. What’s the whole story? Check the author. Do a quick search on the author. Are they credible? Are they real? Supporting sources. Click on those links. Determine if the info given actually supports the story. Check the date. Reposting old news stories doesn’t mean they’re relevant to current events. Is it a joke? If it is too outlandish, it might be satire. Research the site and author to be sure. Check your biases. Consider if your own beliefs could affect your judgment. Ask the experts. Ask a librarian, or consult a fact-checking site. From: International federation of library associations and institutions.]
Attribution: By IFLA (http://www.ifla.org/publications/node/11174) [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Donate, If You’re Able

We know that many in our communities are barely scraping by and don’t have extra economic capital to donate. But if you can, please do.

There are so many worthy places to donate.

Sometimes, though, when organizations get an unexpected windfall, they aren’t skilled at managing that great amount of money. (We’re thinking about some of the issues with ALS orgs a few years back.) Feel free to donate to these orgs, but consider donating to local advocacy groups as well, who may not be getting the same windfalls. Consider donating sustainably, and in an ongoing manner, if you are able.

Protest

If you’re near DC, there will be a June 30th protest at Lafeyette Square.

If you are anywhere else, use this map to find a protest near you.

Whatever You Do

Stay ready. Stay hydrated. Stay woke.

Love you, fam.

-Editors


Want to join our volunteer team? Send us an email explaining your qualifications. Resume or writing samples appreciated, but not required. We’re looking for editors, writers who would like to regularly submit, and social media gurus. We do not currently have any paid positions and consist solely of volunteer staffers. In your email, please include creative suggestions on how you’d like to be compensated for your time. ​

 

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Gendertrash Update

We’ve been terrible at posting. Horrendous really. On a scale from how frequently an asteroid collides with the earth to create the moon to how often the alt-right (Can we call them Nazis now? Yes? Great.) does something racist as f*ck, we’re posting at about the frequency of a total solar eclipse. We’re sorry about this, but we can’t make any promises that we’re going to get better. That said, dear reader, we owe you an explanation.

Self-Care, Y’all

We’re here for the resistance. And as seasoned activists, we know that this is a marathon, not a sprint. As gendertrash, we’ve always been in it for the long haul. We watched middle-class lesbians and gays do their sprint for marriage equality, we remembered them saying they’d work for trans rights after they won marriage, and we’ve listened to the crickets as trans rights have been repealed over and over and over. To be honest, we’re not the least bit surprised. Don’t get us wrong: we think marriage equality activists meant it when they said they’d come back to help. We just think that they burned out from the intensive physical and psychological decathlon that is activism.

Particularly when that activism centers around your own identity.

Particularly when the conversation of the oppositions centers around your right to basic human dignity, or even your right to live.

Particularly when you don’t have any choice in whether or not you become an activist because your very existence is politicized as an act of resistance.

We think marriage equality activists sincerely planned on coming back to help; we also think the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Our Own Merry Road to Hell

That brings us back to Gendertrash Café, dear reader. Here at the Café, we’re currently traipsing down the yellow brick road to hell, ‘cause we had the very best intentions when we started this blog. Luckily, it’s a pretty road and we’re all friends of Dorothy here.

Our editors have been engaging in very interpersonal and sometimes micro-level activism and self-care. Housing insecurity, job changes, and chronic illness to name a few circumstances of many have caused us to shift foci and priorities to personal safety and localized activism. We know you know these struggles, friends, so we ask for your love and support as we continue to engage and post at a slower rate than originally intended.

We would also be remiss if we didn’t point out that the current political climate is less than reinvigorating. There. Are. So. Many. F*cked. Up. Things. Happening. Every. Damn. Day. that it’s difficult to keep track of everything, let alone respond to all of it.

But that’s the design, ladies & gents & non-binary sibs. They want us to get distracted by the chaos. The tactic of the oppressor is to keep us in a constant state of confusion, anger, fear, and hopelessness. If we’re being hit from so many angles, and if the barrage is constant, we don’t know where and how to focus our energies. We start feeling as though we are powerless to incite change. Eventually, we give up. The chaos becomes normalized, the messages become internalized, and one day you wake up to find that we’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

“The tactic of the oppressor is to keep us in a constant state of confusion, anger, fear, and hopelessness. If we’re being hit from so many angles, and if the barrage is constant, we don’t know where and how to focus our energies. We start feeling as though we are powerless to incite change. Eventually, we give up. The chaos becomes normalized, the messages become internalized, and one day you wake up to find that we’ve always been at war with Eastasia.”

We must not let that happen. We must take care of ourselves so that we can continue to resist. This is an ultramarathon, so we cannot treat it like a 100 meter. Not a fan of sports analogies? The next few years will be the gastronomical equivalent of eating a 26-lbs turkey by yourself in one sitting. We suggest stretch pants.

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What we really want to say is this: take care of yourselves, hold space for others around you to commit to self-care, and take care of each other. We’re still planning to be here in 2021, albeit with new battle scars. But the only way any of us will make it to that point is to stay focused; to channel our anger into productive activism as much as it is healthy and possible; and to commit to the long, hard road ahead.

With love and solidarity,
-Gendertrash Café Editors

Want to join our volunteer team? Send us an email explaining your qualifications. Resume or writing samples appreciated, but not required. We’re looking for editors, writers who would like to regularly submit, and social media gurus. We do not currently have any paid positions and consist solely of volunteer staffers. In your email, please include creative suggestions on how you’d like to be compensated for your time. ​

On Politics – Poems by Sergio Ortiz

Where will the children play
Their names, carved in the keel
of the vessel in which they traveled.

Their margins, our boundaries pushed
to the side in view of what really matters

in our fallible, sensitive lives, seek
a response from the unknown.

Position yourselves next to the mystery
of their music. Is child play the glimmer

that does not bond to anything,
a mirror of water: the closed curtain

in the school of human affections?
Gunshot signals the rescue,

yet you deny them entry.
A growing weakness reminds me

that there is no beginning or end in the life
of your phosphoric limbo, Mr. President.

Nobility of Blood
Dear Lord, this congressional recess
the President’s cabinet promises
to thank you for AIDS, though
it has not made them transcend
into the 21st century. They are
still caught up in superficial things
like fake news, taxes, bans, the wall.

We thank you for these tent evangelists,
brothers and sisters alike,
breeders of hate crimes,
that reject the perfect beauty
of homemade remedies
and blood transfusions.

Lord, forgive their arrogance
toward the medical community
and appoint faith healers
to Obama Care, or whatever the hell
Mr. Trump decides to call it.

Thank you for allowing me to live
on the periphery of society,
where nobody asks yet everybody
tells. Thank you for the innocent
illusion of my open exhibitions
of affection toward Omar. Thank you

for not letting in immigrants
from Muslim Africa, where water, food,
and medical supplies have always
been scarce and costly, where rape
and violence towards women
is beyond control, where children
have no choice but to fight
for brutal warlords, where life
and death no longer belongs to You.

Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Iran, Libya, Sudan,
have you learned to die?


Sergio A. Ortiz is a queer Puerto Rican poet and the founding editor of Undertow Tanka Review. He is a two time Pushcart nominee, a four time Best of the Web nominee, and a 2016 Best of the Net nominee. His poems have been published in hundreds of journals and anthologies. He is currently working on his first full length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.