As a former undocumented immigrant, and someone who speaks at schools and events about the immigrant experience, one of the questions I get most commonly is “How can I help?” It is one of my favorite questions.

First, you’re already doing it. Reading books about the immigration experience, and taking the time to find out more, means that you’re an empathetic and concerned person. Studies show that people who read fiction care more and understand the world around them. So keep doing that. Not only is reading fun. It’s also a way to grow as a human being.

Second, take the time in your own life to be as inclusive and caring as possible. That new kid at school? Talk to them. Understand other people. Try to listen to as many different viewpoints as possible. Stretch yourself.

If you’re looking for non-profits to which you can donate or with whom you can volunteer, there are many good ones. But, as always, do your own due diligence before you give. Sites like Charity Navigator can give you ratings and information about how much of your donation goes to help people vs. to the non-profit’s operational costs.

Non-profits who work to help immigrants:

Immigrant Justice Corps

United We Dream

Border Angels

And, as always, don’t forget to look right in your own area when looking for ways to help immigrants. I’ve taught ESL, served as co-chair of an immigrants’ rights organization that provided food and services for our local day laborer population, and volunteered to help new refugees… all just a few miles away from home. Chances are good there are great organizations right in your city or county that are already set up and are helping… and could use your help too. Google your town/county name and “immigrant rights organization” to see who is already doing the work… and join them.

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