As the staff of Heartland Human Care Services, we wish to call out the gross disinformation that was shared in a letter (Letters to the Editor, Dec. 11) by individuals who obviously know nothing about our 130-year-old human-rights organization or the shelters we have operated for 20 years for unaccompanied minors.
We want to set the record straight about the care we provide for children who come to our country seeking safety because our shelter-to-reunification model is the only legal and humane option for children who come to our country alone, and those same children are put at risk by this kind of disinformation campaign.
The residential shelters we operate are not jails or detention centers, and it is damaging, dangerous and irresponsible to make those claims. In fact, there is no comparison.
We encourage people to take a look at our website at heartlandalliance.org.
Our responsibility is to provide safe shelter alongside health care, educational, legal and recreational services for children in our care. We work relentlessly to reunify children with family or a safe sponsor—it is our number-one priority.
Within 24 hours of a child’s arrival, we make efforts to connect them with a family member and begin to secure them an immigration attorney. A child spends an average of 50 days in our care before they are reunified with a sponsor or family member.
For more than 20 years, Heartland Human Care Services has provided shelter to over 22,200 unaccompanied children who entered our country alone and vulnerable. We’ve been part of the Beverly community since 2010.
This year, we served children from 51 countries speaking over 30 different languages. We provide immediate safety and stability to all these children within a nurturing, trauma-informed environment.
The children who come to us may have parents who were desperate for them to have a better life. They may have fled sex traffickers or gang violence. The majority has encountered traumas most of us couldn’t even imagine.
No matter why the children left their home country, we are their bridge to safety and opportunity in the United States. As long as there are children alone and trying to find safety here in the U.S., we want to be here for them.
Unfortunately, we are living in a time when people can easily spread false and misleading information about any person or organization without any accountability. We are shocked that people are purposely trying to cause confusion and comparing our work—a shelter model designed by human-rights and immigrant-rights advocates 20 years ago as an alternative to inhumane detention centers—with the deplorable policies and practices of the current federal administration. And we are dismayed that even when presented with facts, they persist in spreading lies.
Please join us in spreading the truth and standing for justice.
We invite you to visit our website for more information about who we are and what we do.
The staff of Heartland Human Care Services