How to help families being separated under the new zero tolerance policy

© John Moore, Getty Images

We’ve heard the stories and seen the pictures. This is how you can help the children and the families who are now being impacted by the Trump Administration’s new zero tolerance policy.

Let’s start with the legislative/government approach:

First things first: understand our fight shouldn’t just be about the facilities themselves.

Our protests should be framed around the Trump Administration’s decision to enact the zero tolerance policy in May, which is why children are being separated from their families, and taken to these facilities.

Reasons why we need to remember the bigger picture:

With that in mind:

Step one: Call your Senators to support Feinstein’s Keep Families Together Act.


Feinsteins bill would prevent children from being taken away from their families. The only exceptions to the rule is if the children are being trafficked and/or abused.

There’s been a definite push on social media and in the media for Feinstein’s bill, which has resulted in 43 senators signing on — so far.

But we still need GOP senators to sign on, to make this a bipartisan bill. One GOP senator signing on would also increase pressure on other GOP senators. In other words, we need people to continue to call, and encourage others to call.

If you have Democratic senators who’ve already signed on, ask them to arrange a visit to the facilities, similar to Senator Jeff Merkley. Having a sitting member of Congress visit, would put pressure on the facilities, and on the administration.

If you need call scripts, check out my other site. If you need call tips, check out Emily Ellsworth’s posts.

Step two: Ask your electeds in both chambers to open up investigations.

There are stories coming out of the border of adults who have ended their lives after being separated from their families, and children who are suffering clear signs of trauma.

There are also stories of moms hearing their children screaming in other rooms, and US border agents abusing their authority, by telling at least one mom, she’ll never see her children again. The conditions the kids are living in — with a twenty-two hour lock-up — can also be considered cruel.

All of this is going to end up in congressional investigations — it’s just a question of when. You can expedite the process by asking your electeds to push for congressional investigations.

Step three: (and related to step two): Donate to incumbent Democrats running for Senate, and Democrats running to flip the House.

In the briefest terms possible: Democrats are a minority in both houses. This makes it an uphill battle to pass laws like Feinstein’s, or to call for investigations.

The GOP majority is also appointing conservative judges, who will play a role in deciding cases, like lawsuits related to what’s happening at the border.

So, we need to flip the House, and do our best to hold the Senate. The best way to do that, is to donate to campaigns, volunteer with campaigns and register to vote. Get others to do the same.

Step four: Contacting the DOJ

Normally, contacting a department has nominal impact, since in the broadest of terms: they get their orders from Congress.

But the DOJ has a form for the public to use. Take advantage of it. You can also contact them at:

U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530–0001

The Department may be contacted by phone at the following:

Department Comment Line: 202–353–1555

Department of Justice Main Switchboard: 202–514–2000

Disrupting and overwhelming their switchboard, is another way to push back. You’re overwhelming all in-take with protests against the zero tolerance policy, which should kick it up the ladder.

Step Five: Asking your governors to direct the national guard NOT to send assets to the border

On Monday morning, Governor Baker of Massachusetts issued a directive to the national guard to NOT go to the border. Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado, signed an executive order preventing assets from being sent to the border.

Ask your governors to to do the same. This is especially critical for the border states — e.g. California, Texas.

You can find your governor’s contact info here.

Non-Legislative Approaches

Outside of calling your reps, there are a lot of proactive/non-legislative options for those who are looking to get involved.



This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a few good places to donate.

Find a rally near you

June 30th is the official day we walk in protest of this policy. Find a rally near you.

For those who are living overseas:

First, donating is definitely always the best way to help. You’re providing the organizations on the ground with the resources to continue their work, which will have the most direct impact.

But if you’re looking for other ways to help:

  1. Calling: If you live overseas, you can still email or call your electeds. Call the electeds of your home state/where you still have family.

2. Emailing: You can also email your electeds through the forms on their website. E.g. This form on Senator Feinstein’s website.

3. Having letters delivered in person: DC residents don’t have representation in Congress, so one way they’re choosing to help, is by delivering letters for constituents from other states. YOU can take advantage of this.

There’s Herd on the Hill, a group of dedicated volunteers who will print out your letters, and deliver them. Learn more from their website. There are also individual volunteers on Twitter — who have reached out to me — who are willing to connect with you, and make arrangements to deliver a letter.

Reach out to them and take advantage of these opportunities; the Congressional Management Foundation mentions in their study “Citizen-Centric Advocacy: The Untapped Power of Constituent Engagement”, that an in-person visit can influence Congress.

While, yes — you’re relying on a proxy in this case, the basic point still stands.

4. Get involved with Democrats Abroad: One of best ways to combat this administration is to commit to action in a group, right? Well, you can still do this if you’re overseas.

Connect with Democrats Abroad, and find local ex-pats and events near you. Or better yet — connect with them an organize an event. Have letter-writing meetings. We’re stronger together.

Political staffer| Global security/intel at @johnshopkins . | Bylines in @thrillist @marieclaire @curbed |Views are my own. Repped by @byobrooks

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