June 21, 2018

Kate Bahen

Defending migrant rights in Texas: charities to support.

Image: John B. Moore, Getty Images

For Canadians moved by the horrific separation and detention of children in Texas, Charity Intelligence recommends Texas Civil Rights and Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.

Texas Civil Rights to is a leading charity that is on the ground in McAllen, Texas, working in the largest migrant detention centre. It represents migrants and tries to stop the practice of separating families. It is a lead advocator for policies inside detention centres so detained migrants can talk with their children and know where they are. It will also focus on bringing children back to be with their families.

To donate to Texas Civil Rights  

Additional information on Texas Civil Rights and its work on reuniting families  

This is a local and mid-sized charity that likely has the scale and capacity to be highly effective. Texas Civil Rights has been working on this issue for years, it is not jumping on the bandwagon of charities seeking national attention and donations. It is professional with a track record, donor reports, and financial transparency. These signal organizational strength. In 2017, its operations cost $2.3 million, not including the value of 17 partnerships with law firms providing pro bono services.

It has the professional status to speak loudly to the Trump Administration. It has, and is, representing immigrants in detention.

Local small charities and non-profit groups are also playing a critical role in visiting immigrants in detention and supporting migrants.

RAICES (Refugee and Immigration Centre for Education and Legal Services) is a US charity that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to migrants. A Facebook fundraiser has raised over $15 million to RAICES. RAICES is likely overwhelmingly “fully-funded”.

Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley supports migrants with a respite centre in McAllen, Texas. This charity is recommended by the Texas Tribune newspaper, along with other charities. For Latinos, who are mostly Catholic, arriving in the US with little, the network of Catholic charities can provide humanitarian aid and meet basic needs.

To donate to Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley

Another fundraising group is ActBlue's Support Kids at the Border where donations will be divided evenly between 14 groups, including the ACLU, migrant rights in Arizona and California, and charities working throughout the US for migrant and immigrant rights. 

Giving tips - 

Sadly, with the media attention and emotional outrage, some charities may use this as an opportunity to raise donations. Before giving, do some homework.

What to look for in groups fundraising for migrant rights in Texas   

  • Based in Texas, and operating in Texas. Supporting refugees is a world-wide issue that many charities work on. Texas is a special situation since it is in the US, not in foreign countries with refugees.  
  • Expertise and track records in meeting the needs of the situation: working with immigrates in detention and government immigration services. The most immediate need is for legal human rights. Sending teddy bears will not console children separated from their parents.
  • Championing reunification: Children need to be with their parents. Following family re-unification, there may be a need for psycho-social support. But not before. 

Before donating, go to the organization’s website. Look especially for recent posts about migrant work in Texas dated before June 2018. This asylum crisis began long before the recent media attention. Are there actions and people on the ground in Texas, or just statements of support? Assess how many staff, volunteers and the organization’s area of focus.

As a Canadian, you will not get a tax-donation receipt for supporting a US organization. And, as such, you can support any organization or non-profit and are not restricted to supporting only registered charities. Give because this matters to you.

Charity Intelligence will not be evaluating these American charities, nor providing updates on how donations were spent and results achieved.



Additional resources:

This is a typical, brilliant article on the complexity of the Texas migrant issue perhaps overlooked: David Frum “Enforce the Border – Humanely: Countering Trump’s extremism with still more extremism will do no good for any principle of freedom.” The Atlantic, June 20, 2018 provides excellent background on this complex issue.


Texas Tribune's list of organizations mobilizing to help migrant children separated from their families. Alex Samuels, “Here’s a list of organizations that are mobilizing to help immigrant children separated from their families: Thousands of immigrant children have been separated from their parents at the Texas-Mexico border. A list of organization that are mobilizing to help, “ The Texas Tribune, June 18, 2018 


Charity Navigator's 7 Highly Rated Charities Working For Refugees - these are mostly international charities working in countries other than the US on the worldwide issue of refugees. 


Lomi Kriel “Explainer: Must immigrant parents, children be separated at the border?”, Houston Chronicle, June 19, 2018 https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Explainer-Is-the-government-required-to-separate-13005122.php

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