A Statement on the Detention and Separation of Migrant Children and Families

June 21, 2018

The Greater Washington region is a diverse community where immigrants, many coming from across our country’s southern border, have made their homes and are woven into the fabric of our identity. We at the Meyer Foundation are deeply troubled by the separation of migrant children from their families. This traumatizing practice has a direct impact on our region: many of these families are attempting to journey to DC, Maryland, and Virginia where they have extended family; many children and adults who have been separated are being detained right here in our region with no clear plan for unification. The long-lasting impact of these experiences is likely to affect the mental and physical health and well-being of future members of our region’s communities for years to come. The Meyer Foundation envisions a just, connected, and inclusive Greater Washington community and this vision is at stake.

The Meyer Foundation knows that we cannot address deeply embedded issues of unjust, amoral systems and policies grounded in racial and ethnic bias with short-term solutions. Even as questionable stopgap measures are put in place, irreparable trauma has been inflicted on the families and children separated through this policy and practice. Without a systems-based approach to solutions, harm will continue to ripple throughout our communities and damage our democracy and values.

As elected officials grapple with finding a political approach, Meyer is investing in organizations committed to ensuring the systems that affect migrant families in our region and beyond are just and advance an equitable community where ALL have the opportunity to thrive. For example, Legal Aid Justice Center brought D.B. v. Cardall, one of the most important cases establishing the legal principle that immigrants have no less of a constitutional right to family unity than US citizens; and Santos v. Smith, which extended that right to immigrant children coming across the border, not just immigrant children who were already living here. Most recently, they successfully pushed the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center to cancel its federal contract to detain immigrant kids in the juvenile detention center in Alexandria.

We have the duty to end injustice predicated on race and ethnicity. The Meyer Foundation is doing so by using our voice, resources, and network to support work that builds power and leadership of people most adversely affected by policies and systems that are damaging not just families in our region, but our region and country as a whole.