We share the concern of many organizations and individuals about recent U.S. immigration policy decisions that have resulted in the separation of families at our borders. These developments are an affront to the MacArthur Foundation’s values and our mission of a more just world. We recognize that events are shifting rapidly and that our immigration system involves complex laws and multiple federal agencies. We strongly believe, however, that the United States can protect its borders in a humane and compassionate manner, consistent with the values embodied in our Constitution, immigration laws that allow asylum seekers and others fleeing harm to pursue claims for protection, and statutes that safeguard children who may be subject to persecution or trafficking.
Our Migration program, which made grants related to U.S. immigration policy from 2012 to 2016, sought to preserve the right of those fleeing harm to seek protection on our shores and at our borders. Consistent with our commitment to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world, we invested in empirical research to identify the causes of the increase in migration from Central America. That research found that a large proportion of the children fleeing from Central America were forced to flee in order to escape threats of violence and forced recruitment by criminal gangs. We invested in a number of efforts to maintain protections for child migrants under current U.S. law. We supported legal representation of children and families of asylum seekers so that they would have a fair opportunity to present a claim for humanitarian protection in the United States.
Like our colleagues in philanthropy, we also have a history of taking special action when circumstances require it, including a discrete set of awards for Chicago’s immigrant and refugee communities in response to the January 2017 executive orders on immigration enforcement. Situations like the one at our border today call for us to speak out and to take action. We are exploring on an expedited basis how a limited amount of grantmaking can help address the most urgent needs of those seeking protection in this country consistent with the universal values of human rights, the right to counsel, and the compelling need to ensure families can remain as united as possible.