Members and friends of Southsiders for Peace, a local, well-respected, anti-war and social justice group, recently wrote to The Beverly Review (Letters to the Editor, Dec. 11) with questions regarding the Heartland Alliance youth detention site located in our neighborhood.

We are disappointed that Heartland Alliance in its response (Letters to the Editor, Dec. 18) chose to characterize our legitimate concerns and questions as dangerous lies and distortions.

There is no disinformation in our letter. We have valid questions that anyone living near a detention center should want answered. We cannot assume that any agency working with the current federal administration is working for the benefit of immigrants or refugees.

Pro Publica, a reputable investigative organization, has published numerous accounts of problems at Heartland’s centers for detained minors; we did not cite these because we felt that, given the history and reputation of Heartland Alliance, we hoped its staff members were trying to do their best. But, their defensive, inaccurate and hostile response to our legitimate concerns and questions is troubling.

We are aware of Heartland Alliance’s long history of helping immigrants. But this is different. This is not Jane Addams. These children are here because of the racist, heartless policies of the Trump administration. Many have been purposely separated from their families. No matter how safe and caring the staff of Heartland is, the bottom line is that Heartland is cooperating with the current administration.

Heartland answered some of our questions in their response; however, many residents of this neighborhood have doubts and must have more details.

We have further questions, among others: When one of your charges turns 18, do you turn them over to Homeland Security for detention and deportation? Do you cooperate with Homeland Security in identifying family members of your residents for possible detention and deportation?

It is unfortunate if you view these legitimate questions as attacks or lies.

Many of us in this community want to welcome these children and look forward to a chance to interact with them in a meaningful and positive way. This is our community, and we are expressing our concern for the children’s welfare.

We invite Heartland Alliance to address these issues at a community forum. Please contact us at ssforp@gmail.com.

Southsiders for Peace