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How to help immigrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border

Politics aside, here are ways to help children caught in this situation through no fault of their own.
/ Source: TODAY

The political crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border is heating up, and children are literally being caught in the crossfire.

Regardless of politics, people are looking for ways to help the children involved.

American authorities used tear gas and pepper spray on hundreds of migrants who tried to enter the United States from Mexico on the Sunday after Thanksgiving at the border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.

"This could be my child. Or yours," actress, talk-show host and mom of two Busy Philipps tweeted, echoing the thoughts of many parents after seeing migrant families running from tear gas thrown by U.S. Border Patrol agents. "What can we do????????????"

Here are some ways to help.

How to help immigrant children

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When donating, look for organizations that avoid processing fees, Lieberman says. "Giving directly through the organization's website is the best way to get the money to the charity directly," he adds.

U.S.-Mexico border crossings

The clash Sunday came one day after the Trump administration and Mexico's incoming government appeared to be at odds over a deal that would keep asylum-seekers in Mexico while they wait for their asylum cases to be processed in the U.S.

Some migrants said they tried crossing illegally after being denied access to the port of entry where they could claim asylum. Under current laws, migrants must enter the United States before they can claim asylum; they cannot apply for asylum at an embassy or in their home countries.

"DHS will not tolerate this type of lawlessness and will not hesitate to shut down ports of entry for security and public safety reasons," Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Sunday.

The migrants who attempted to cross the border were part of a larger group of about 6,000 who’d crammed into several shelters in Tijuana — a situation the city’s mayor has called a “humanitarian crisis.”

In an interview Sunday with NBC News, one of the migrants, Jorge Montoya, 43, described thousands of people staying in a rundown sports stadium with overflowing toilets. When Mexican authorities refused to grant them access to the port of entry, hundreds slogged across the sewage-laden Tijuana River in search of access to the United States.

Among the throng were elderly people in wheelchairs and children in strollers. The group formed a human chain along the river’s steep embankments.

“We’re not running because we’re criminals,” Montoya said. “We’re running from the crime in our country.”

This story was first published on May 29, 2018, and has been updated.

Jordana Horn contributed to this story.