United Way, The Boston Foundation, Combined Jewish Philanthropies and Catholic Charities Statement on Immigrant Family Separation Policy

June 21, 2018

Boston – One of the core tenets of our work is a commitment to those who are most vulnerable in our community. It is hard to imagine a more vulnerable person than one who may be fleeing violence and oppression in their home country. 

The practice of separating children from their parents at the U.S. border with Mexico, many of whom are desperately fleeing violence in their own countries and seeking asylum, is not only inhumane, it is immoral and un-American.

The Administration’s practice of separation was reprehensible, and one which we hope will never be repeated in our nation’s history. But one thing that cannot be reversed with an Executive Order is the trauma this practice has inflicted on already fragile young lives that hold so much potential. And the situation is far from over—indeed, there are 2,300 children separated from their families, some of which have been moved as far away from Texas as New York City. There are no known plans for reunification of these families.

The impact of many recent immigration policies like this is being felt in communities across the country, including Massachusetts. Community organizations in our region had already reported widespread anxiety among immigrants of all backgrounds and documentation status. Our partners expressed concerns that some families would now be too afraid to seek education, shelter, healthcare, or domestic violence services out of fear of being targeted for deportation.

There are ways to help.  Local agencies report increased need for funds to help negatively impacted families with legal assistance.  In response, Catholic Charities and Combined Jewish Philanthropies established the CJP Legal Aid Fund for Immigrants to support affected children and families in the Greater Boston region.  The Boston Foundation joined private and public funders to create the Greater Boston Immigrant Defense Fund.  United Way is working with its partners to provide services and fund organizations advocating policy changes in the Commonwealth.  Other community-based partners are calling for mentors to youth who may be particularly anxious/impacted by bullying during this time, along with a need for volunteers to serve as English tutors, home visitors and literacy specialists.

Our organizations emerged in the early 1900s to come to the aid of immigrants pouring into American cities from Southern and Eastern Europe. Since then, a deep respect for diversity and a dedication to social justice has defined everything we do, stand for and value.

We will continue to monitor new policies or procedures as they are created and the efforts to re-unify those children already separated from their families.  We will continue to welcome and support those coming to our country seeking protection and a chance at a better life.


United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley believes in harnessing the power of communities working together to deliver lasting change. They invest in organizations and direct programs that achieve high quality outcomes in financial opportunity and educational success, aligned with best practices and research to provide them with extensive support for continued success. The United Way values partners that consistently demonstrate a commitment to collaboration and directs their funding to support the needs of vulnerable populations. They provide valuable unrestricted funds to non-profit partners, seed innovative, new approaches to solving entrenched community challenges and seek opportunities to scale programs, services and policy changes that work.

The Boston FoundationGreater Boston’s community foundation, brings people and resources together to solve Boston’s big problems. Established in 1915, it is one of the largest community foundations in the nation—with net assets of $1.1 billion.  In 2017, the Foundation and its donors paid $135 million in grants to nonprofit organizations. The Foundation is a close partner in philanthropy with its donors, with more than 1,000 separate charitable funds established for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. It also serves as a major civic leader, think tank and advocacy organization, commissioning research into the most critical issues of our time and helping to shape public policy designed to advance opportunity for everyone in Greater Boston.  The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), a distinct operating unit of the Foundation, designs and implements customized philanthropic strategies for families, foundations and corporations around the globe.  For more information about the Boston Foundation and TPI, visit tbf.org or call 617-338-1700.

Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Greater Boston’s Jewish Federation, inspires and mobilizes the Greater Boston Jewish community to engage in building communities of learning and action that strengthen Jewish life and the world around us. Our vision is a vibrant, inclusive community that embraces diversity and builds communities of meaning and purpose for current and future generations. For more information, please visit www.cjp.org.

Catholic Charities of Boston, one of the largest providers of social services in Massachusetts, encompasses nearly 75 distinct programs in 26 locations providing help with basic needs for individuals of all ages, races, cultures, and religious faiths. Whether through food assistance, help for struggling teens or outstanding refugee and immigration support during a time of intense uncertainty for that population, Catholic Charities provides support for individuals’ most basic needs while respecting the dignity of each individual and charting a path to a living wage. For more information please visit ccab.org.