We watched in disgust, disbelief, and pain as migrating
children and families were separated and dehumanized.
In the summer of 2018, hundreds of grannies and grampies, from all over North America, traveled to the US-Mexico border in McAllen,Texas What we saw motivated us to fight on.
Grannies Respond is a grassroots movement, which formed in response to the separation of families seeking asylum at the southern border of the United States, in spring 2018. As news spread of immigrant children being separated from their parents - 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 30 Grannies and their supporters departed from Beacon, NY on July, 31, 2018 in two 15-seat vans and a camper. By the time the Grannies’ caravan reached the border, the group had picked up participants from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, Oregon, Wisconsin, Illinois, Louisiana; they converged along the route, driving vans, RVs, cars, trucks, busses — anything, really, with wheels and a motor (there was even a motorcycle). They were a diverse lot, but they all agreed on these basic demands: the immediate reunion of all families, an end to the detention of immigrants and their families, and due process under the law for all immigrants requesting asylum.
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.
Grannies Respond worked in conjunction with Veterans Service Corps and Lawyer Moms of America, and was supported by hundreds of community members and organizations on the ground, including Angry Tias & Abuelas, Catholic Charities, and La Posada Providencia.
Where are we now?
The struggle continues. Since returning to their homes, the Grannies have continued their work, individually and collectively by sharing their stories and raising awareness of the harsh conditions and indignities facing those fleeing violence and abuse in their own countries.
Grannies Respond chapters have formed in many states and communities. Together, we have formed the Overground Railroad, a network of helpers who assist immigrants at bus stops across the country as they make their way to family members, sponsors, and community hosts who will house them while they await immigration hearings.
We advocate for compassionate and dignified services for asylum seekers on their bus routes and at shelters. We have supported medical organizations at the border by sending medical professionals to provide much needed assistance through Doctors Respond.
Our NYC chapter, Team TLC NYC, has provided humanitarian assistance including a warm welcome, vital essentials, food, and clothing to the tens of thousands of asylum-seekers that were bussed from Texas to Port Authority Bus Terminal during several intense months of 2022 and into 2023. They are supported by over 900 New Yorkers who stood up to help. Through many grants and individual donations, they are able to meet this challenge and do this amazing work.