The Pittsburgh Foundation

In immigration reform, let’s not discard American and philanthropic values

A statement from Pittsburgh Foundation President Maxwell King

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 6, 2017 – On the Martin Luther King Day observance Jan. 16 at the August Wilson Center, I, along with leaders from every facet of community life joined Allegheny County’s chief executive and Pittsburgh’s mayor to reaffirm that our region – one famously built by immigrants – is committed to being open and inclusive, with no one excluded based solely on faith or country of origin.

Our Foundation stands with Pittsburgh’s leaders who have responded publicly in the last several days to oppose the recent presidential order abruptly halting all immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations: among them, university heads Patrick Gallagher of Pitt, Ken Gormley of Duquesne and Subra Suresh of Carnegie Mellon; Bishop David Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh; Cindy Goodman-Leib of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh; Grant Oliphant of The Heinz Endowments and elected leaders of both political parties.

We are relieved that the federal court system has hit the pause button on a chaotic approach, and we hope that in the judicial review process, the Trump administration offers a compromise plan.

Many in our region agree that parts of the immigration system must be improved to make the country more secure. But closing our borders to the terrorized in the name of preventing terror seems a step backward. And any policy that attempts to punish immigrants that are already part of the fabric of our society seems needlessly harsh.

The vast majority of Americans want an immigration policy that effectively controls illegal immigration, but also allows for the appropriate levels of annual legal immigration that serve the needs of communities across the nation.

In this region, especially, we must be mindful of the benefits that have come to us from a system that requires no religious test or ethnicity screen. Where would Pittsburgh be without the invaluable contributions made by Jonas Salk, Andy Warhol or the Rooney family? All are descendants of immigrant relatives who escaped poverty and political oppression in their homelands.

And it is indelibly marked on those of us who work in Pittsburgh foundations that the concept of organized philanthropy was developed by Scottish immigrant Andrew Carnegie, who arrived in Allegheny, Pa., at age 13 and started out as a factory worker for $1.20 per week.

Our Foundation is an example of the full flowering of Carnegie’s idea. For more than 70 years, our mission of improving quality of life in the region has been met through giving from an extraordinary array of donors from all neighborhoods and backgrounds.

– Maxwell King, President & CEO, The Pittsburgh Foundation



About Maxwell King: A leader in the American philanthropic community for more than 15 years, Maxwell King led The Heinz Endowments, the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning & Children’s Media and served as board chair of the National Council on Foundations before taking the helm at The Pittsburgh Foundation. Drawing on his earlier career as a journalist, which culminated in the editorship of the Philadelphia Inquirer, King is writing the first definitive biography of Fred Rogers. Read his full biography here.