The following is a message from YMCA of The USA President Kevin Washington. It originally appeared at YMCA.net.
At the Y, we believe all people – no matter where they’re from – deserve to be treated with dignity, compassion and respect. We also believe children and families need to feel safe, secure and connected to thrive.
While we are relieved that children no longer will be separated from their families at the United States/Mexico border, we remain concerned about the welfare of the thousands of children who already have been taken from their parents and all those held in detention centers. The trauma of separation and detention will have lasting, adverse effects on the physical and emotional health of these children and adults. We hope future decisions accelerate the reunification of families in safe, nurturing environments.
At the local and national levels, the Y is working toward solutions. As an example, the YMCA of Greater Houston, with its deep experience in immigrant integration and refugee resettlement, is offering legal services to parents who have been arrested at the border as part of its ongoing efforts to reach and serve these families. YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) staff have had conversations with other leading national nonprofits about what we may be able to accomplish together. Both Y-USA and Y associations continue to support the YMCA of Mexico’s Migrant Homes for Border Youth, which provide food, shelter, psychosocial services and family reunification support to unaccompanied minors when they are deported from the U.S. to Mexico.
As a nonpartisan organization that is respected on both sides of the aisle and has strong relationships with policymakers across the political spectrum, the Y regularly is invited to participate in important conversations in Washington, D.C., about policy that affects kids, families, and communities. Y-USA will make sure the Y’s voice and values are part of conversations about what is happening at our borders.
The Y was founded as a refuge for young people who were trying to make a better life for themselves in new, unfamiliar surroundings. So began a long, proud history of serving newcomers and other vulnerable populations. We always will live our core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility, so that all people have the opportunity to reach their full potential with dignity. And we always will call on others to do the same.