America is a nation enriched by immigrants, many of whom traveled a difficult path to come to the United States. Many were forced to leave friends and family members behind. Such separations are tragic. The trauma they inflict scar those affected as well as the generations that follow. Usually, such rending is the product of war or upheaval somewhere else in the world. But today, separations are the product of U.S. government policy.
Since May 2018, the federal government’s policy toward immigrants has been one of “zero-tolerance.” The policy calls for the criminal prosecution of all individuals who wish to enter the United States without documentation, including those seeking asylum. As a result, nearly 3,000 children have been separated from their families and, as of this writing, reunification with their families has been happening fitfully.
As a Foundation that seeks to uphold the human rights and dignity of people in the United States and to support the early education of the youngest members of our society, we are heartsick at the treatment of children and families at the Southern Border and, especially, the enforced cleaving of parents from their children. At the same time, we are heartened to see the opposition to this policy, including from many of our grantees and partners.
In support of these counter efforts, and in line with our human rights work on immigration, the Foundation recently awarded two emergency response grants to the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and to the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL).
In June 2018, the Foundation awarded $200,000 to NDWA for the Families Belong Together campaign. Led by NDWA in partnership with MoveOn, ACLU-National, and dozens of other organizations, Families Belong Together is aimed at ending the practice of separating immigrant children from their parents, ending the treatment of migrants as criminals, and building power to shape budget and policy debates around immigration enforcement. The campaign was behind the popular mobilizations that took place all around the country on June 30, 2018, to oppose the current administration’s immigration policies.
Also in June, the Foundation awarded $220,000 to NCYL to protect and defend immigrant children’s rights while they are in U.S. federal custody and beyond. NCYL is at the center of the legal challenges to the treatment of migrant children in federal custody, and to protecting their rights to remain with their families.
In these turbulent times, we stand together with our grantees and colleagues in philanthropy in affirming the importance of protecting the well-being and dignity of immigrant families affected by the zero-tolerance policy.