Now Playing

How to Help Right Now: Twelve Local and National Organizations Fighting for Detained Migrant Children

The U.S.-Mexico border may be more than 500 miles away, but you can help these local organizations fighting for separated migrant families.

Protesters gathered outside the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' office on Sansome this afternoon, calling for the release of detained migrant children.


If you have a heart, it’s aching right now. Listening to the kids’ cries on the audio obtained by ProPublica, looking at the images of children in cages (or "chain-link partitions" as the Trump Administration prefers to call the cages), or watching Laura Ingraham compare detention centers to “summer camps” is sickening. Maybe you’ve already signed a petition or joined one of the protests that have sprung up nationwide over the past few days—including today’s demonstration outside of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office on Sansome. But how else can you help from 500 miles away from the U.S-Mexico border? Here are some places to start:


Kids In Need of Defense (KIND)
Founded by Microsoft and Angelina Jolie in 2008, KIND has helped more than 16,000 children find legal services over the last decade. The nonprofit serves children throughout the country, and has California offices in San Francisco and Fresno. KIND is currently circulating a petition to end family separation, and donations fund know-your-rights training, outreach to victimized children, and recruiting and training of volunteer attorneys.

Legal Services for Children (LSC)
This Bay Area-based organization offers free representation to children in SF or Alameda County, supports education, and helps them avoid detention and deportation. LSC offers a Warmline (415-863-3762) for minors for immigration-related legal advice, assistance with child protective services, or even advice on expulsion from school. To support LSC’s work, donate online, apply for an internship, or volunteer as a pro bono lawyer.

Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC)
The ICWC opened its doors in San Francisco in 2010, and focuses on migrating women and children in California who have been victims of crimes. The nonprofit’s San Francisco and Oakland sites need volunteers, especially lawyers and law students. You can support its work in Southern California by donating here.

San Francisco Immigration Legal Defense Collaborative (SFILDC)
KIND, LSC, and ICWC are three of 15 organizations within the SFILDC. The coalition started in 2014, after receiving $2.1 million from the city to support legal services for migrant children and families facing deportation. Attorneys, interpreters, translators, or medical professionals can volunteer for SFILDC.

Centro Legal de la Raza
Across the bay in Oakland, this agency provides pro-bono legal services for migrants or asylum-seekers, with an additional focus on tenants’ and workers’ rights. Centro Legal hosts walk-in office hours for legal services for migrant families or unaccompanied minors from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the third Thursday of every month at their office in Fruitvale and runs an ICE activity hotline to report raids and provide legal advice. It welcomes volunteer interpreters and pro-bono attorneys, and accepts donations.

Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN)
Down on the peninsula in Santa Clara County, SIREN established the county’s first multilingual immigration information hotline in 1987. These days, SIREN hosts a “Know Your Rights” clinic every Thursday at 10 a.m. and free walk-in legal consultations every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at their San Jose office. The Spanish-English hotline, which provides legal information and low cost referrals is (408) 453-3017. There are plenty of volunteer and internship opportunities within SIREN, and they also accept online donations.


National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR)
The NNIRR, which has focused on expanding immigration rights since 1986, has turned its attention to the current detention and separation of families. The U.S.-wide movement is currently circulating a petition calling for a halt on the detention of asylum seekers. To support NNIRR’s work you can become a member, apply for an internship, or make a one-time donation.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
This national organization is (of course) rallying Americans against the detention of asylum-seekers and separation of families, condemning the practice as “inhumane” and sharing resources for finding and contacting your senator. It also ran a wicked fundraising campaign: On Donald Trump’s 72nd birthday, model Chrissy Teigen and singer John Legend each donated $72,000 to the ACLU to prevent further separation of families; over the next two days, 20,000 more people answered the ACLU’s call and raised a total of more than $1 million. Keep the party going by with a gift to the ACLU, or join the Northern California chapter.

Pueblo Sin Fronteras
This national immigration rights collective offers two shelters in the Sonoran Desert and organizes large caravans of migrants and refugees traveling to the U.S.: In March, it led approximately 1,500 migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to the United States. The caravans offer safety-in-numbers, but Pueblo Sin Fronteras supports migrants afterwards; a few months ago, they successfully raised enough money to bail a former-caravanner out of jail. Donations to Pueblo Sin Fronteras go towards future caravans.

Al Otro Lado
This nonprofit born in California serves deportees, migrants, and refugees in Tijuana, Mexico. Al Otro Lado mainly focuses on immigration law and family reunification, but also helps with family, labor, criminal, and employment law. You can support Al Otro Lado by donating or applying to be a volunteer attorney, doctor, social worker, or even art therapist.

Border Angels
This all-volunteer nonprofit advocates for social justice and immigration reform relating to the Southwest border. The group accepts donations online, but also needs volunteers in California to maintain water stations on the border, donate clothing and food, and host fundraising events locally.

Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP)
ASAP helps migrants all over the country avoid deportation, access legal services, and connect with other refugees. ASAP currently isn’t training new volunteers, but has turned its attention to preventing the separation of migrant families by fundraising. You can support its work with a donation.


Have feedback? Email us at
Email Taylor Hohn at
Follow us on Twitter @sanfranmag
Follow Taylor Hohn on Twitter @hohnsolo13