A Statement On The Immigration Crisis

To Our Forward Promise Family,

All of us have been deeply impacted by the immigration crisis at the border in which both the separation of children from and reuniting with their families has traumatized them, severely compromising their current and future well-being. Central to our mission at Forward Promise is broadening the field’s knowledge about effective prevention and intervention of the negative effects of trauma on boys and young men of color and their families.

We also are charged to highlight the powerful and transformative work of our grantees as they engage these traumas daily. We are extremely proud of the work our grantee, Amistades, Inc., has begun in partnership with Hispanics In Philanthropy at the U.S./Mexico border in San Diego this week to support the health and well-being of families affected by the immigration crisis.

While we all feel this pain, we cannot feel it as deeply as the families directly affected or our brothers and sisters whose work involves daily liberating families from the trauma of these dehumanization examples. For many of us, it brings up painful memories of the deep wounds of colonization, historical and racial trauma. As an initiative charged with supporting healing in our respective communities, it can feel to us at Forward Promise as if these assaults of Central American and Mexican families running from death and harassment threatens to unravel our progress or thwart our efforts. But, we are here and we will stand strong in solidarity with you and the impacted families. We have the strength of our ancestors backing us as we continue the work we have been commissioned to do.

The leadership of Forward Promise is very aware, as many of you are as well, of the deep and lasting impacts that the trauma of separation creates and that it is further compounded by maltreatment and abuse. We know that the blatant dehumanization of people of color is increasing and happening everyday in this country. But the border crisis is unique. The research on these types of trauma noted by the American Psychological Association identifies three very strong findings: 1) immigrants experience unique stressors that are racialized or politicized and not directly addressed by most trauma-informed health services; 2) the very threat of deportation constitutes a unique fear, anxiety, and somatic reaction for immigrants and non-immigrants of Latin-descent that undermine daily healthy functioning in school, work, and neighborhoods; and 3) the separation of children from families or deportation-related separation is so harmful than it can not only rupture family relationships and last for years, but in some cases has led to suicide. We condemn these actions as immoral, unethical and a continuation of a centuries-long strategy of ripping children from the arms of parents. It must stop. We know our grantees will be working to heal this trauma to families for years to come.

However, we also know our ancestors do not roll around in their graves: they whisper to us, their children, and they are saying, “These acts of dehumanization on our people are not new.” We acknowledge our grantee organizations and NAC members, as well as many of you in our broader community, who are on the front lines of this fight or engaged in the emotional repair of impacted families and communities. We continue to learn from our history and our cultural healing traditions, how to solve the problems of today for boys and young men of color, their families, and their communities.

In love and solidarity,

Howard Stevenson, Rhonda Tsoi-A-Fatt and The Forward Promise Team

As a show of support for the continued healing work of our Forward Promise Family, the following Forward Promise grantee organizations, National Advisory Committee members and Technical Assistance providers have asked to have their names added to this statement:

NAC Members:
Kisha Bird, CLASP
Sarah Eagle Heart, Native Americans in Philanthropy
Andrew Mulinge, NAC Member
Patrick H. Tolan, Youth-Nex: The UVA Center to Promote Effective Youth Development

Grantee Organizations:
Amistades, Inc.
Asian Counseling and Referral Service
Deep Center
Hawaii Island HIV/AIDS Foundation
National Compadres Network

Technical Assistance Providers:
Nedra Ginwright, Flourish Agenda
Byron Hurt, God Bless the Child Productions
Steven Jumper, Ghost Note Agency