Grandmothers Help Asylum Seekers

Millennials and Gen Z aren't the only socially conscious citizens. Seniors are also doing their part — case in point, these grandmothers helping asylum seekers resettle in the U.S.

Grannies Respond

Recently released asylum seekers are arriving at Greyhound bus stations to find smiling grandmothers offering food, socks, gloves and comfort. Grannies Respond is a grassroots movement, which formed in spring 2018 in response to the separation of families seeking asylum at the southern border of the United States. As news spread of immigrant children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border — at that time a hallmark of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy — a group of outraged grandmothers in New York state decided it was time to act.

They formed Grannies Respond/Abuelas Responden and put out a call on social media for others to join them in a six-city, 2,000-mile trip to McAllen, Texas, home of the largest U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention center for undocumented immigrants, where they planned to protest. The struggle continues. Since returning to their homes, the Grannies have continued their work, individually and collectively, while continuing to share their stories with their communities. Grannies Respond chapters have formed in many states and the group has formed the Grannies Overground Railroad, which assists immigrants at bus stops across the country, as they make their way to family members and community hosts who will house them while they await court dates.

In McAllen, members participated in 24 hours of protests and vigils at the U.S. Border Patrol Processing Center and in volunteer service projects with local charities and aid groups. Some crossed the border to bring vital supplies to immigrants waiting to cross into the U.S., where they will apply, in many cases, for asylum, having escaped violence in South and Central America. They show up each day to help asylum-seekers navigate the journey to their sponsors. The project originates from a caravan of grandmothers who traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border to bring attention to the family separation crisis. Overground Railroad operates in 8 U.S. cities with more to come. In Sacramento, a grandma is at the bus station every morning.