We want to inform your readers that Heartland Alliance is operating a detention center in the Beverly neighborhood for immigrant children who have either been separated from their parents or arrived in the United States on their own.

This detention center is one of five that Heartland Alliance is operating in the city. These children have been detained by the U.S. government and placed under the care of Heartland Alliance.

Many of us are acutely aware of the horrible conditions in some of the detention camps, particularly the ones in Texas. Images of children who were torn from their families and now living in cages and sleeping on floors are all too familiar. We hope that the conditions at the Heartland Alliance are nothing like the concentration-camp-like conditions that prevail at the for-profit detention centers that Homeland Security has contracted with.

We understand that Heartland Alliance is a not-for-profit organization that has provided assistance for many years to vulnerable people, especially immigrants. However, there are questions that need answers:

Is Heartland Alliance providing the government with the names of the children’s family members for possible deportation or arrest?

Do the children have access to immigration lawyers?

Are the children permitted contact with family members either in the U.S. or abroad?

How much is Heartland Alliance being paid by Homeland Security to operate these centers?

How long are these children detained before they are united with family?

Why is there a detention facility in the Beverly neighborhood? The obvious answer is that the U.S. government has separated and detained tens of thousands of children, and they have to be put somewhere. The care they receive may be decent or horrific, but they are still separated from their families; they are still imprisoned.

Why did the government separate these children? Why are asylum-seeking families torn apart and children detained, and parents imprisoned or deported? Why were they not allowed to stay with their parents or go to family members who were waiting for them? These men, women and children fleeing violence, rape, gangs and murder—are they a danger?

Like all demagogues in history, President Donald Trump has built his support by building fear and hatred against minorities. People vote for him because they believe the lies that immigrants are a danger to their welfare.

These families, detained and separated, are entitled to apply for asylum. The Right of Asylum is U.S. and international law. The Trump administration is violating international laws every day.

There are at least two reasons for the large influx of immigrants. For decades, the U.S. government has financed death squads and fomented civil war in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, the U.S. has helped overthrow elected governments in Guatemala, Honduras and Chile, among others. Gangs paid by and armed by the U.S. government have murdered tens of thousands in these countries. These gangs still persist and continue to terrorize civilians.

Some of these countries are controlled by oligarchies propped up and financed by the U.S. government and U.S. businesses. They have no interest in providing a decent life or opportunity for the millions of poor people who live there.

As citizens and as residents of this neighborhood, we call on Heartland Alliance to release these children to their families now. Do not cooperate with those policies of the U.S. government that inflict so much misery and pain on innocent children.

William Beaulieu, Mark Kuehner, Charlene McGrath, Debbie Navabi, Lenore Wolf, Michael Wolf, John Wyatt, Sally Cattouse, Kathy Kuehner and Doug Fellows