In the wake of President Trump’s first major action—an executive order barring immigrants from seven nations from entering the United States—and the ensuing court battles, it is no surprise that many of our grantees are focusing their attention on protecting immigrant rights. At the same time, they remain grounded in the understanding that progress happens across issues—housing, child care, health care, and more all intersect to affect family well-being. Read on to hear what MCF grantees have to say in response to national events, as well as what they are doing on the ground to continue the fight for equity across region, race, religion, and especially issue.
"Since the ban was enacted, hundreds of Tennesseans have worried about whether or not they would be reunited with their family members, whether loved ones would be able to escape violence and war or whether they could freely travel without discrimination," said Stephanie Teatro, co-executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.
When President Donald Trump issued a ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries, grantees spoke out immediately, reminding the nation of the fear and suffering immigrant families are experiencing during these uncertain times
Grantees also spoke against escalating raids and deportations. When ICE officials in Phoenix, AZ hauled away Guadalupe Garcia Rayos—a mother of two and 20-year U.S. resident whose only offense was the fact of being undocumented—in front of her crying children, National Council of La Raza Deputy Vice President Clarissa Martinez warned that the move “set the stage for a scorched-earth approach for immigrants in this country." The most poignant statement came from Rayos’ 14-year-old daughter, who reminded us all that high-level political decisions affect real people: “No one is ever ready to have their mom taken away,” she said in a statement on Facebook.
Even as many responded to rapidly-shifting events on the immigration front, MCF grantees continued their work in other areas crucial to family well-being. On the housing front, Urban Habitat released Race, Inequality and the Resegregation of the Bay Area, a revealing examination of how land use and housing policy are displacing working class families and communities of color. On the MCF website, Urban Habitat’s Tony Roshan Samara explains why “increasing poverty on the edges and increasing affluence at the center” amounts to “resegregation”—and what regional organizers are doing to counter this troubling trend.
Jobs and health care are also central to family well-being. In Arizona, Children’s Action Alliance (CAA) raised concerns on both fronts. If the state were to lose its Affordable Care Act funding, according to a report commissioned by CAA, Arizona could lose more than 62,000 jobs next year alone, sending the state into a first-ever "health-care recession."
Another piece of the puzzle when it comes to family stability is safe and affordable child care. In Alabama, the number of licensed child care care centers has been steadily declining since 2000. VOICES for Alabama Children is fighting this trend with a mentoring program to help unlicensed church-based centers meet state standards and apply for licensing. "We've got passion but we don't live it every day," said VOICES director Andrea Piggott words of wisdom for all of us, whatever issues we hold dearest.
Finally, National grantee the NAACP and many others took time in February to celebrate Black History Month. My own thoughts turned to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous promise that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Words to hold on to in turbulent times.