June 19 2018

Over the past year, I have been more conscious of the responsibility of using The California Endowment’s voice — and specifically my voice as President & CEO – in weighing the political and policy landscape of the day and how it affects our mission and our work as a foundation.

Our health foundation is dedicated to ensuring “Health4All” in an increasingly racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse state – a state that has experienced and rejected our own “anti-immigrant” moment twenty years ago. Observing what has emanated from the White House and Washington, DC these days — from divisive rhetoric to cruel policies — has proven difficult to absorb. And for the first time, I find myself in a struggle to remain thoughtful, measured, and non-partisan — as any private foundation leader should be.

When our President came to the defense of Nazi sympathizers and  white supremacist organizers, I found myself struggling to remain thoughtful and measured.

When our President models misogynistic behavior, and engages in bullying tactics, I find myself struggling to be thoughtful and measured.

When our President mocked the disabled during the election campaign, I found myself struggling to be thoughtful and measured.

When our President savagely and relentlessly attacks freedom of the press, I find myself struggling to be thoughtful and measured.

When our President takes great pride in cutting the corporate tax and the tax rates of the wealthiest Americans — while depriving the poorest Americans of meaningful health care coverage, clean air and water, and a Justice Department working to secure justice for the most vulnerable among us — I find myself struggling to be thoughtful and measured.

But this time, our President has gone a bridge, or in this case, a “wall” too far.  This past week, we learned that our President and our government has sanctioned the forced separation of children from their parents at our nation’s border.

Let me say this again.  America.  Not Russia.  Not North Korea.  This is America.  The cradle of democracy literally and forcibly taking children from their parents.  This is our President’s policy.  This is our government’s policy carried out in America, by Americans, in 2018.

What in God’s name is happening to our nation?  Have we lost all sense of decency? Is this how we “Make America Great Again?” If so, count me out.

As a pediatrician, a father, and a human being, I cannot be silent in the face of such cruelty.  There is no excuse and there is no justification for this atrocity.  It is wrong, it is unnecessary, and it is deeply traumatic to tear innocent children away from their parents.

Struggling parents who risked their lives in the belief that the United States was still the only place in this world where some measure of safety and justice could still be gained are devastated.

And all of us are forced to endure this abomination in our name.

On Father’s Day, I thought about the fathers who have been forcibly separated from their children. And while I feel angry, I am not helpless. I plan to elevate my voice for change.  What will you do?

JOHN MOORE VIA GETTY IMAGES A 2-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.

Click here to learn about a June 23rd Families Belong Together Rally happening in San Diego.

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