Letter from John Sanders, Founder of The Blue Iris Fund
I did not emigrate to the U.S. and am fortunate to have grown up and succeeded in this great country. I never served in the military nor law enforcement. And while many of the companies I worked at developed technology that helped keep U.S. citizens safe and secure, I felt a patriotic duty to do more. I set aside my commercial endeavors and answered the call to serve the people and country I love.
What I found upon joining U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was a group of people who care deeply about our country, about our security, and about the people who cross our borders – both legally and illegally. They work incredibly hard to meet the needs of everyone operating within our broken immigration system — an impossible task. I was invigorated by their passion and worked diligently to make changes that would improve the situation for everyone. While we had our share of successes, they were merely bandages on an open wound that needs so much more — more than any one person or even one agency could muster.
Through a series of unexpected events, I ended up as the person in charge as CBP’s Acting Commissioner. Although immigration policy was never my expertise nor the reason I was hired, I found myself leading an organization on the front lines of an immigration crisis. I visited numerous border facilities, met with field personnel, and took to heart their frustrations and anguish over the lack of adequate resources, policy, funding, staffing — the list goes on — that contribute to the suffering I witnessed. There is incredible depth of empathy and care among the CBP ranks, but it was inevitable that despite their best efforts, the systemic inadequacies would continue to cause human suffering. I saw it firsthand and it pushed me to work harder, but it also haunts me to this day. Nothing stirred me more than the deaths of three children — Jakelin Amei Rosemary Caal Maquin and Felipe Gómez Alonzo in December 2018 and Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez on May 20, 2019. The deaths of these children transformed me.
As a country, we need to direct our ire at the problem, not at the people — a change in attitude and policy that requires top down and bottom-up support. That kind of change will take time and won’t help the migrants who are suffering now. I’ve therefore teamed with Glasswing International to create the Blue Iris Fund to help affect change and bring relief to other innocent children more quickly. Partnering with like-minded donors and organizations, we can honor people’s right to seek refuge, provide care and comfort for those who have migrated, and begin to chip away at the root causes in migrants’ home countries that force emigration as opposed to staying and thriving in their home country.
In memory of Carlos, Jakelin and Felipe, and all the children who have died immigrating to the U.S., the Blue Iris Fund is focused on helping migrant children by providing security, education, healthcare, and nutrition to those seeking a better life through immigration to the United States. The Blue Iris is a symbol of hope, and that is what our organization intends to bring to these migrants. Hope that there are better days ahead.
Thank you in advance for your interest in the Blue Iris Fund. Advancing our mission to address the conditions that create human suffering at our border demands capabilities and resources from a strong community of advocates and donors. I appreciate any support you can provide.