AP NEWS

Let’s respond with compassion to border

May 12, 2019

We are grateful for the recent coverage in the Santa Fe New Mexican about the work we here at the Santa Fe Community Foundation have undertaken to support the immigration pressures within our state.

In close coordination with our partners in the city government, and they, in turn, with their counterparts in Albuquerque and Las Cruces, our goal is to support the individuals and families coming across our southern border, as well as our fellow communities across the state struggling mightily to respond with compassion.

We have established the Fund for Refugees and Asylum Seekers — a focal point for gathering financial gifts both large and small from those seeking to assist in the current crisis. And let me be clear: Regardless of how one feels about the cause of the crisis — and there are many viewpoints on that matter — what we believe is that all people of deep conscience can agree that this indeed has become a crisis. In March, nearly 100,000 people crossed the southern border between Mexico and the United States, and expectations are that more than a million will cross this year. Our shared New Mexican values demand we respond.

The individuals, families and children making their way to temporary housing and transition points in the southern part of the state and El Paso, and being assisted by the gifts into the fund, are being legally processed as they enter the country. One can only imagine the journey they’ve encountered and, even worse, the violence and fear they may have experienced in their home countries.

Still further, with the images of family separation still fresh in our minds, and the fact that families with children are far outpacing the number of single adults, we have an opportunity, as President Abraham Lincoln said, to let the “better angels of our nature” shine through the rancor.

Our first step has been to respond to a request from Albuquerque to establish the Santa Fe Children’s Corner in the temporary accommodations on the state fairgrounds. Those staying in these accommodations are typically there for 24 to 48 hours as they prepare for the trip to their sponsors in other parts of the country.

The Santa Fe Children’s Corner is envisioned as an all-important place, amid the overall tumult, where children can be children. The corner will be a place for kids to play and let the stress of their journey fade into the background — if even just for a short time. And maybe even take a toy with them on the journey to their sponsors.

This is a start of what we will do, with the generous support of fellow New Mexicans, to address the current humanitarian crisis.

William “Bill” Smith is president and CEO of the Santa Fe Community Foundation. The Fund for Refugees and Asylum Seekers will accept cash donations via check (sent to SFCF P.O. Box 1827, Santa Fe, NM 87504) and credit card at www.santafecf.org/givenow (select the Fund for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the Fund List box). Stock donations can also be accepted by contacting the foundation.