On June 20, 2018, women’s foundations across the country issued a joint statement regarding the treatment of immigrant and refugee families at the border:

 

Women’s Foundations across the U.S. condemn the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and the continued detention of immigrant families. While the new executive order issued by the Trump Administration will pause the practice of separating immigrant families at the border, ending family separations without ending the “zero tolerance” policy means that women, children and families will continue to be charged criminally, held in inhumane detention facilities and refused refuge in the United States.

 

This policy is cruel, punitive and unnecessary. And it is a choice. This administration has chosen to target immigrant families of color for traumatic detention and deportation. It has chosen to have zero empathy or compassion for people fleeing violence and seeking safety in the United States. It has chosen to put young children at risk of trauma and harm in detention facilities.

 

We believe in the right to parent your children in safe communities, without fear of violence from individuals or governments. Immigrant justice is reproductive justice, and immigrant rights are women’s rights.

 

We call on the Trump administration to make a new choice; to end the “zero tolerance” policy, to end the detention and deportation of immigrant families.”

 

Signed:

Boston Women’s Fund

Chester County Fund for Women & Girls

Chicago Foundation for Women

Colorado Women’s Foundation

Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

Dallas Women’s Foundation

Maine Women’s Fund

New Hampshire Women’s Foundation

New York Women’s Foundation

Shadhika

Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights

Vermont Women’s Fund

Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis

Women’s Foundation of California

Women’s Fund of Hawaii

Women’s Funding Network

Women’s Foundation of Colorado

Women’s Fund of Omaha

 

The Iowa Women’s Foundation stands with the organizations who issued this statement—and we stand by all those affected by these policies. As of June 22, 2018, the Iowa Women’s Foundation was added to the list of organizations endorsing this statement.

 

Our Commitment Is to ALL of Iowa’s Women and Girls

Over the last few years, the Iowa Women’s Foundation has proudly supported programs serving women refugees in Iowa, from increasing the availability of culturally appropriate child care to offering business training to providing parenting classes.

We’ve learned that many immigrants and refugees come to Iowa with skills and knowledge, but they need some help matching that knowledge base with opportunities here. For example, the University of Northern Iowa’s Community Producers Program offers Burmese refugee women training, resources, and support to become agricultural entrepreneurs and sell their produce at local markets. This helps support their families and is an entryway into the broader workforce.

UNI Community Producer’s Program accepting their IWF Grant at our 2018 Check Presentation

 

Similarly, IWF Grant Partner, NISAA African Family Services, helps African refugee women buy sewing machines. Classes provide instruction on how to tailor and how to open a business. The African refugee women voiced this as a need. In Iowa, they felt more isolated and dependent on their husbands than they were in their home countries. This program gives them not only skills, but a network for social support.

Nisaa accepting their IWF grant at our 2018 Check Presentation

 

Another program IWF supports is Lutheran Services in Iowa. In Des Moines, a lack of culturally sensitive child care meant immigrant women weren’t comfortable enrolling their children. Over the course of three years, Lutheran Services trained refugee women to become licensed child care providers. Now, women in the program have opened more than 40 child care centers serving children speaking 19 different languages, and refugee mothers have been able to go to work while their children are cared for in a trusted environment. There are child care deserts in Iowa, so these refugee women have become a solution to this problem. We are currently working with Lutheran Services to expand the program beyond Des Moines to serve other refugee populations throughout the state.

Lutheran Services in Iowa accepting their IWF grant at our 2018 Check Presentation

 

 

IWF is committed to improving the lives of ALL of Iowa’s women and girls—whether they are Iowa-born, or they come from another state, community, or country.