Why Oregon Should Shelter Child Refugees

We were honored to join with The Collins Foundation in a letter to the editor to express our support for fair, humane treatment of the many children seeking refuge in the U.S. Though our statement didn't make it into the news, we think it's worth sharing:

Every day, our foundations invest in nonprofit organizations and programs to help children in Oregon succeed. Why? Because Oregonians consistently tell us they value our children above all else. They are our future prosperity. What the research shows, and our families know, is that there will be no prosperity if we cannot keep our children safe.

We have been following our nation's growing concern over the influx of child refugees to the U.S. We think that no child should be returned to a home that isn't safe.

When children arrive in Oregon, fleeing violence in Central America, let's treat them as we would our own children in desperate need. While their cases are being heard, we should provide them with shelter and support, not detention. Support programs for child refugees are cheaper and more effective. They are also more Oregonian.

But humane shelter programs are stopgaps if the homes these child refugees would return to are neither safe nor permanent. Until their safety can be assured, these children should be allowed to stay among family, friends or caregivers. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Central America must work together to dramatically reduce the violence causing children to seek protection in neighboring nations.

No matter how long they're with us, we think our community has a responsibility to welcome them and work to improve their young lives. We think much of Oregon agrees.

- Truman Collins, President of The Collins Foundation; Cynthia Addams, Executive Vice President of The Collins Foundation; Reverend Mark Knutson, Chair of Northwest Health Foundation; and Nichole June Maher, President & CEO of Northwest Health Foundation