The US has long been a refuge for people yearning for a better and safer life. As a nation, it enhances our communities and strengthens our moral standing around the world.
In the last few months, we have seen those cherished values turned on their head. Our hearts broke as we watched the federal government separate parents from their children, bringing direct and avoidable harm to families who came to this country out of desperation. The cruelty and chaos created by that policy have been soundly rebuked by leaders and ordinary citizens across the political spectrum.
Under pressure from the courts and the public, the Trump administration in June directed the Department of Health and Human Services to reunite families while continuing to pursue policies that would allow the government to detain them together indefinitely. Many parents and children remain apart. Those who have been reunited have undoubtedly been scarred by the experience, particularly children, for whom these events are dangerously traumatic. And most of these families remain in a perilous legal limbo, with no safe place to call home.
The government’s treatment of these families speaks directly to who we are as a nation. We all have a role to play in making the situation right.
There are many philanthropies around the US and in California with a long history of supporting just and humane immigration policies and providing help for those fleeing violence. They include the Annie E. Casey Foundation, California Community Foundation, Casey Family Programs, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, The New York Community Trust, Open Society Foundations, Rosenberg Foundation, The San Francisco Foundation, The California Endowment, the Irvine Foundation and many others. In times like these, we are reminded of how important their work is. Many have responded to this crisis with increased support and grantmaking.
While the broadest areas of need right now do not fall squarely in the California Health Care Foundation’s (CHCF’s) areas of focus or expertise, our board and staff felt that it was important for us to contribute to this larger effort, particularly to help families in our state.
We owe a great debt to many partner organizations who have helped us figure out how to craft meaningful and timely contributions. With the benefit of their knowledge and their grantmaking leadership, CHCF will be making up to $1 million in emergency grants to groups that support separated children and detained families.
Below is a list of organizations doing invaluable, heroic work that is supported by emergency funding. We are honored and fortunate to be able to support them, and I encourage you to use the following links to learn more about their work:
Please keep in mind that these efforts represent a fraction of the organizations working in the trenches to help immigrant and refugee families in need. All of them need support to meet immediate and long-term challenges.
If you are interested in helping separated children, detained families, or immigrants seeking asylum in California or beyond, I recommend these resources:
California Community Foundation has created its own LA for All Fund and maintains a list of organizations in Los Angeles County and across the country that seek to protect, heal, and reunify families.
Latino Community Foundation has compiled a list of organizations accepting support, as well as links for information about foster care and clothing donation sites.
CHCF has drawn inspiration and knowledge from these organizations, and I am grateful for their commitment.
Working together, we can protect the US’s role as a beacon of humanity, freedom, and opportunity in a harsh world. Those are powerful values, but they do not sustain themselves. It is our job — all of us — to defend and nurture them.
Sandra R. Hernández, MD, is president and CEO of the California Health Care Foundation. Prior to joining CHCF, Sandra was CEO of The San Francisco Foundation, which she led for 16 years. She previously served as director of public health for the City and County of San Francisco. She also cochaired San Francisco’s Universal Healthcare Council, which designed Healthy San Francisco. It was the first time a local government in the US attempted to provide health care for all of its constituents.
In February 2018, Sandra was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the Covered California board of directors. She also serves on the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing Advisory Council at UC Davis and on the UC Regents Health Services Committee. Sandra is an assistant clinical professor at the UCSF School of Medicine. She practiced at San Francisco General Hospital in the HIV/AIDS Clinic from 1984 to 2016.
Sandra is a graduate of Yale University, the Tufts School of Medicine, and the certificate program for senior executives in state and local government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.