Local group organizes caravans to help kids in detention centers

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A local group, Solidaridad con los niños, is organizing caravans to support children in detention centers along the U.S.-Mexico border, the first of which is leaving Sunday.

The group is partnering with San Francisco Chapter of CODEPINK Women for Peace to collect funds for the caravans. In addition, the group is accepting donations of books and toys for those being detained.

According to the Facebook event on the information session about the caravans — which will be held 7 p.m. Thursday — the caravans will be visiting local locations, with some driving as far as detention camps in Texas.

Our group is accepting funds for the children; my particular part is collecting stuffed toys, blankets and Spanish books for the children detained. Our goal is to show comfort and compassion to children who are being detained by ICE,” said CODEPINK Golden Gate Chapter coordinator, Cynthia Papermaster. “We want them to know we are here for them and love them and care for them.”

Solidaridad con los niños has also started a project, known as #songs4niños, where people can sing and record songs and lullabies in Spanish or other Latin American languages, Papermaster said.

According to Solidaridad con los niños’ website, the group has plans to play the songs on a loudspeaker outside the centers.

“Our hope that people in every city keep vigil and support those in need,” said Samara Hayley Steele, a member of Solidaridad. “I do hope this catches momentum and people find themselves able to support this and stop this program to detain kids.”

A federal judge in San Diego issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday that all children affected by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy are to be reunited with their parents within 30 days. Steele said she believes it is wonderful this is happening, as this will “speed things up.”

Under the order, children younger than 5 years old must be reunited with their parents within two weeks and older children must be reunited within 30 days. Federal authorities must allow parents to contact their children within 10 days.

“There are several people in our groups concerned about this,” Steele said. “Many of our members are willing to host the kids waiting to be reunited with their families.”

Solidaridad con los niños also looks toward locations where detention camps could be built. One such location is the Concord Naval Weapons Station, according to Steele. The location was planned to hold 47,000 migrants — after a Concord City Council meeting held Wednesday, however, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not move forward with the plans, as reported by ABC 7.

“We just really care about what happens and we want to show that the U.S. is not a cold-hearted nation,” Papermaster said. “Everyone cares about children, and we are just giving people an opportunity to step up and do something.”

Contact Suryan Bhatia at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @BhatiaSuryan.