8/18/18 Michigan Support Circle is Supporting
Detained and Separated Immigrant Families
The grassroots Michigan Support Circle is joining forces with Immigrant Families Together to help reunite and provide much-needed support for immigrant families who were detained and separated at the border.
Both groups were recently formed in response to urgent need to support families who were being reunited after weeks and months apart as a result of the U.S. government's action to separate families seeking asylum at the southern border. Volunteers rallied to provide emergency transportation, housing, food, clothing, medical care and other support -- and the need is ongoing. One volunteer offered frequent flyer miles, which made it possible to purchase tickets for a mom and her 12-year-old son in Texas to be reunited and then flown to live with extended family in Michigan.
Since then, more than 300 people have volunteered to donate frequent flyer miles for similar purposes. Michigan Support Circle is teaming with Miles4Migrants to help channel those resources where they are needed.
"Miles4Migrants specializes in using frequent flyer miles to book tickets for migrant families," says Rosalie Lochner, one of Michigan Support Circle's founders. "With our donors' permission, they are going to help manage our miles. This will give us greater agility to book tickets."
In the approximately six weeks since it started, Michigan Support Circle has built a core of about 300 members. Lochner has taken the lead on triaging families' situations, and has now recruited additional volunteers to manage individual cases.
The group has also expanded to support related efforts in Ohio by helping collect school supplies for kids who were affected by ICE raids of a garden center in June in which about 100 workers were taken into custody.
Some of the other work Michigan Support Circle has done to date includes:
-Provided transportation to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and consulate appointments in the Detroit area and Chicago, doctor's appointments, etc.
-Instituted GoFundMe campaigns for individual families. Two funded so far were for families whose young children were brought to Michigan. The money is helping provide housing, food, medical and other expenses.
-Raised money for a general fund to provide emergency funds for rent, food, health care and the like.
-Raised about $10,000 to help families with transportation, rent, food, utilities, medical bills, phones and other essentials.
-Identified clinics that will treat families' medical needs.
-Found volunteers to support a little girl undergoing dialysis; her parents have been deported.
-Connected families with lawyers and other advocates.
-Conducted clothing drives, as many families arrive only with the clothes they are wearing.
-Worked with lawyers to help one mom get her daughter back; the girl had been detained in Florida for three months. She and her mom hadn't seen each other in a year by the time they were reunified Aug. 18.
-Is helping get children here registered for school and equipped with clothing and school supplies.
In addition, children in Grosse Pointe and Ann Arbor held Kids for Kids Lemonade Stands the weekend of Aug. 11 and 12, raising more than $2500 for immigrant families.
“We are an all-volunteer group with jobs, families, and kids. Partnering with IFT gives us greater nimbleness and allowing us to provide more resources to our families in a structured way and help us to keep helping these immigrant families who end up in Michigan or whose kids are in Michigan," Lochner says. “We are concerned about the mistreatment of any family.
"However, we believe that because our government was and is the cause of the traumatic separation of families at the border we have an exceptional moral obligation to help these families.”
Michigan Support Circle still needs volunteers who can help with driving and translating. Donations continue to be needed as well.
For more information, visit misupportcircle.org or find Michigan Support Circle on Facebook or Twitter (@misupportcircle).
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"I have joined the CA group and will spread the word to my West coast friends. The village is big and we can come together on many fronts. Thank you for starting this movement!"-- CJ