A Message to Congress from United Way CEO Brain Gallagher

Dear Member of Congress,


As President and CEO of United Way, I want to express my appreciation to Congress for passing $4.6 billion in humanitarian relief aid to address the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. As we have seen again in recent days, the situation at the border can be heart-breaking and frustrating, even amid some inspirational human stories. I hope you will take a few minutes to watch this video depicting the people I met on my recent visit to El Paso and Juarez.


I am proud that United Way works in all 50 states, covering more than 95 percent of the U.S. population, to give individuals and families a better chance to succeed in life. Too many people find their opportunities limited, so we bring people together in thousands of communities across the U.S. and around the world to give them the tools they need to meet their potential.


Over the course of my career, I’ve seen communities change. Some see new opportunities, others experience challenges.  At the same time, the people who make up the fabric of each community change as well.


As the son of immigrants, the narrow – and sometimes misleading – debate about migration taking place in the U.S. frustrates me. Many of us, or our previous generations, came from somewhere else. Yet too often, reports about migrants coming from Central America and other parts of the world through Mexico look at the issue through a strictly political, security, law enforcement, or economic lens.


People should come first – their welfare, their hopes and their dreams for a better life. If we are going to fight for stronger communities, we should fight for them, too. We should respond with head and heart.


Yet to fully understand an issue, I believe that it’s important to witness it firsthand. That’s why, earlier this year, I made two trips to the U.S.-Mexico border: one to San Diego and Tijuana and another to the aforementioned El Paso and Juarez. Along with United Way staff and local leaders, I visited shelters, churches and health centers. We spoke with religious figures, business and non-profit leaders, and committed volunteers doing incredible work – and of course many migrants and refugees themselves. 


This video shows what we saw, and the lives being changed. Please click HERE.


We must redefine the narrative around migration and see this issue through human eyes. One of my biggest takeaways is that migration isn’t a zero-sum game. There doesn’t have to be winners or losers. Migration provides an opportunity not only to build stronger communities for all, but for our better angels to rise up and provide greater opportunity for our fellow human beings.


United Way will continue to work in the communities that you represent. We’ll fight for better education, better access to health care and better jobs. We’ll fight for greater opportunity for people – our most important infrastructure.


Please watch the video, visit united4humanity.org to see more videos and learn more about United Way’s migration work, and be willing to see this issue through human eyes.


Thank you,


Brian Gallagher, President and CEO, United Way Worldwide