Family Separations are a Humanitarian Issue

Like all of you, we have been horrified and disturbed in recent days by the images and stories of children being separated from their families at the southern border. We are speaking out today because we believe the treatment of children and families is not a political issue – it is a humanitarian one.

Any parent can understand the importance of holding and cuddling children, and the power of nurturing to calm them. The idea of not being there to hold them, and never being certain about when we might see them again, would be unbearable. 

Separating children from their parents must not happen, and we hope the executive order issued yesterday prevents future separations. It is also critical that every effort is made to reunite families that have already been separated.

We urge our political leaders to come together in good faith and work on solutions that will ensure families seeking entry into this country are kept together, treated humanely, and with respect. While there is a wide spectrum of views on the broader issue of immigration, we believe these are bedrock principles that our country must uphold.

As former First Lady Laura Bush wrote in a June 17 column for The Washington Post, “We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin. We pride ourselves on acceptance. If we are truly that country, then it is our obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents — and to stop separating parents and children in the first place. People on all sides agree that our immigration system isn’t working, but the injustice of zero tolerance is not the answer.”

Janine Lee is SECF’s President & CEO. Gilbert Miller is Chair of the SECF Board of Trustees and a trustee of the Bradley-Turner and Beloco foundations.

Links to other responses within philanthropy to the family separation crisis are provided below:

Grantmakers Concerned With Immigrants and Refugees will host a June 27 webinar on how grantmakers can respond to family separations. You can learn more and register here.

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