Over the last couple of months, public attention has been drawn to reports and images of immigrant children being separated from their families because of changes to the way that U.S. immigration policy is being implemented. These actions, documented in vivid detail, have sparked discussion across the country about how we as Americans treat migrants.
Immigrant families are a part of the fabric of our communities. Whether in Kansas City’s urban center, or in small towns in western Kansas, immigrant adults do essential work, start businesses, help their neighbors and support their families. A quick look at our own individual genealogy will generally reveal an immigrant or refugee only two to three generations before our birth.
Like the majority of Americans, I am distressed about the treatment of immigrant children and families. And while there is now a stated reversal of the family separation policy, every family has not yet been made whole – and the anxiety and toxic stress of those actions will undoubtedly result in negative, long-term individual and public health consequences.
Inequity and injustice are incompatible with the REACH Foundation’s guiding principles and core values. Our focus on advancing the health and well-being of people living in our geographic service area encompasses everyone, regardless of background and origin. As REACH has worked to understand barriers to health care, we have looked more closely at people who are frequently underserved by health programs and systems. Immigrants and refugees are frequently among that group.
Last year, REACH joined Grantmakers Concerned for Immigrants and Refugees, an organization with tools and resources that can help us meet our equity goals. We are funding projects such as Communities Concerned for Immigrants and Refugees, a new learning network, which is holding a series of workshops on current issues affecting immigrant health. We encourage you to visit their website and join us for an upcoming session. Education and partnership are a good place to start to resolve any conflict about how we integrate newcomers into our communities.
At REACH, we will continue to explore these topics and consider additional investments that improve health in all segments of our community. We welcome your ideas on how REACH can further support healthy discourse and action in this area.
Brenda R. Sharpe
President and CEO