By Patricia Smith, TFN President and CEO, and Tom Woiwode, Chair, TFN Board of Directors

In recent weeks, we have witnessed an escalation of hard-line immigration policies that have resulted in the separation of children from parents, widespread confusion over how these families are to be reunited, and concerns over whether immigrants and asylum-seekers will be afforded due process guaranteed to them under the law.

This so-called “zero-tolerance” approach creates immediate and lasting harm to the thousands of families forcibly separated at our borders, the effects of which cannot be understated. It also presents a clear and present danger to the fundamental values we uphold as a nation that has historically provided safe harbor for those seeking security, freedom, and the opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their children.

As a network of more than 170 foundations across the U.S. and Canada, the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities (TFN) works in support of efforts to create communities that are sustainable, prosperous, resilient — and above all, equitable and inclusive.

The increased vitriol directed at immigrant communities, as well as migrants seeking refuge at our borders, undermines these important efforts. We have heard disturbing reports from across our network of the chilling effect these inhumane actions and attitudes have already had in further isolating a vulnerable population — including a sharp decline in reports of sexual assaults and other serious crimes against immigrants and refugees because victims are distrustful of local authorities; a hesitancy to evacuate to shelters amid natural disasters because of fears of being turned over to immigration officials; and a general reluctance to participate in civic matters because of fears of engaging with government officials. All of these are signs of how pervasive distrust can erode the fabric of a community.

TFN recognizes the important contributions that immigrants have made and continue to make to the social, economic and cultural vibrancy of our communities. And we state unequivocally that for communities to truly thrive, those communities must fully embrace and engage immigrants — as well as other people who have been historically marginalized because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or cultural background.

TFN joins with dozens of other leaders in philanthropy and philanthropy-serving organizations who have co-signed a statement from Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees denouncing unjust family separation and detention policies. Please take a look at the full statement here, as well as this round-up of responses from philanthropy and other resources for funders.

We encourage our members to continue to speak out against intolerance, stand up for the less fortunate, and ensure that we serve our communities in ways that are compassionate and just.

In solidarity,

Patricia L. Smith, President and CEO, Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities 

Tom Woiwode, Chair, Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities Board of Directors