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Immigration Enforcement Must Put Families First


            


Earlier this week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) carried out a series of raids at facilities throughout Mississippi that resulted in nearly 700 men and women being apprehended and accused of being in the country illegally. 

It quickly became clear that these actions did not take into account the impact on the families of those taken into custody. The raids came on the first day of school – many children emerged from what should be a day of promise and possibility to find no one to pick them up, with no information on what happened to their mother or father. In some cases, children lost both parents to these raids. 

We have since seen images of children crying in the street, confused and afraid. Many children were left with, literally, nowhere to go. The local residents and businesses that volunteered to house these children until they could be connected with loved ones deserve our highest praise. While many of those initially taken into custody have since been released, hundreds more are still in detention. 

Sadly, these actions are all too reminiscent of the family separations that took place at the Southern border last year. Back then, SECF leadership wrote that “the treatment of children and families is not a political issue – it is a humanitarian one.” This remains the truth today. 

Immigration is a complicated and contentious issue, but any actions taken to address it must adhere to some basic principles: people must be treated humanely, families must not be ripped apart and innocent children must not be made to suffer physically, mentally or emotionally. 

Several organizations are already mobilizing to help foundations respond to this crisis, including Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, as well as Hispanics in Philanthropy. SECF and the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy will connect our members with these organizations, as well as any other resources that can help them respond and ensure that children and families in our region – no matter their origin – are treated with dignity and respect.

Janine Lee is president and CEO of the Southeastern Council of Foundations. Sammy Moon is executive director of the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy.

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