Many of us feel concern and a desire to care for children and family migrants seeking refuge. Figuring out how to help can be overwhelming so we’ve compiled a list of resources that includes several things you can do in your local community to show support for persons fleeing Central America.
In addition to visiting your Member of Congress in his or her local office, detailed in our August Congressional Recess Guide 2014, you can:
Hold a Prayer Vigil
Gather the local faith community to hold a prayer vigil. Media advisories and press releases are good ways to let your local media know this event is happening. Invite the press to raise the profile of people of faith standing strong for welcome. Use our how-to guide for help with planning.
Attend a Town Hall Meeting
Many Members of Congress hold town hall meetings during their August recess to interact with constituents. Town hall meetings offer an immediate opportunity to express concerns by asking well-reasoned questions that make a point.
You can find out when meetings will be held by visiting the webpage of your Member of Congress. When you attend these meetings, it is best to arrive early, bring written questions, and sit by the microphone. Voice your connection to the local faith community and use the LIRS Guiding Principles of Protection, Human Rights, and Due Process to form your questions, expressing your concern for the safety, rights, and well-being of children and families. Make your participation visible by bringing friends and making yourself available to the press.
Pass a Local Resolution
Towns, cities, and counties across the United States have come out with resolutions and statements of welcome for children and families fleeing Central America. Statements and resolutions can play important roles in counteracting fearful and hateful messages that don’t represent the sentiments of a majority of U.S. communities. Statements of welcome have been championed by mayors of Lansing, Michigan; Syracuse, New York; and Atlanta, Georgia.
Grassroots and faith-based groups can be a driving force behind such resolutions. You can play a key role in developing a resolution and getting it passed at the local level. In most towns and counties, you can ask your city council, county commissioners, or other governing body to pass a resolution. After you draft a resolution, collect signatures and letters from local residents, churches, and organizations explaining why it’s important for your community to welcome and support children and families and asking officials to pass the resolution. Build up support among faith leaders, community members, business owners, and resettled refugees, so that they can speak in support of your resolution when it comes up for a vote.
Pass a Local Resolution: Become a Welcoming Community For Central American Refugees, a resource from the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, gives more details about how to begin this process and provides sample resolutions.
Have questions? Want more ideas? Find resources for these activities and more in our August Congressional Recess Advocacy Guide.