If your week has been anything like mine, your brain is probably about to explode from all the political nonsense. I understand that many see this as an extremely challenging time, while others are wondering what the fuss is all about. I could go on and on about everything that's happened in the past week, but I'd like to hone in on one issue that's extremely close to my heart: the immigration (or refugee) ban.
My husband used to work in refugee resettlement and so we've always been "woke" about this crisis. Things finally hit home for me though, when I was able to spend time working in refugee camps in Greece last fall. I spent two weeks serving the world's most vulnerable people, hearing their stories and tasting just a sliver of their pain. When I heard the news of Trump's Executive Order this week, I collapsed on the floor crying, knowing what that meant for the mamas and babies I met not so long ago.
This is no longer a political issue, but about saving human lives. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers just like you and me. No matter who you voted for or which party you typically side with, please consider the following reasons for opposing this dangerous ban:
1. Refugees are not a terrorist threat.
Our president can go on and on about national security, but the reality is that these refugees are fleeing the very terrorism he is so afraid of. In Greece, I met plenty of little girls, running around without shoes or proper food, whose dads had been killed by ISIS. I saw men and women with chemical burns on their bodies, inflicted by terrorism. I met moms who had once been sex slaves. I met dads whose options were to join the Taliban or flee, in which they chose to flee. Trump has gone on and on about the vetting process, yet the U.S. has the most stringent vetting for refugees in the world. Which explains why there hasn't been a single attack on American soil carried out by a refugee.
2. It's prejudice by Executive Order.
He can call it whatever he wants, but the fact that he is only targeting Muslims from the banned countries proves this is about religion. A move like this will only perpetuate the idea that Islam is something to be feared and that Muslims shouldn't be allowed in our country. This line of thinking is a serious danger to the amazing Muslim community in our nation, working hard and contributing to society just like the rest of us. Side note: It is said that HALF of all Americans have never met a Muslim. If you're in that boat, you might need to step out of your comfort zone and do so. You'll realize we're not as different as we've come to assume.
The fact is, these people aren't just seeking a better life. They just seek life.
3. What about Trump's business conflicts?
The fact is, there has not been a single attack on American soil by anyone from Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen or Iraq, the countries that are included in the ban. However, the ban omits countries that were home to the 9/11 attackers: Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates—all countries where President Trump allegedly has personal business ties in those nations. You connect the dots. I'm not saying to ban these countries instead, but the facts are certainly upsetting.
4. We are a nation of immigrants.
Let's not forget that our country was founded and built by immigrants seeking religious freedom. Lady Liberty says it best:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I'm pretty sure these "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" are the families who have been forced to flee their homes because of extreme violence and war—just like our founding fathers long ago. These huddled masses have sold everything only to board a crappy raft and risk their lives by crossing a sea where thousands have died. They are now squished into tents and boxes across Europe, living on nothing but persevering in the most resilient way. How can we turn our backs on everything that we stand for?
And this one should trump all the rest. The fact is, these people aren't just seeking a better life. They just seek life. They don't want to leave their homes and countries that they love.
They have no other choice.
When I was in Greece, we learned about a graveyard just for babies that had drowned or washed up on shore. Over 90 little bodies lay in the ground there, an astounding reminder of something that should never be!
I am so thankful to know so many refugees that have immigrated here, making our country more rich and more beautiful. We are all so much better for it. Our children are learning so much from our world right now. How we respond to these issues will determine how they treat others and who they become when they are running the world one day. As a free state and a powerful one, let's use some of our resources to do the right thing for these vulnerable people.
So what can we do about this ban?
- Contact your senators. Call them on the phone and let them know where you stand. A simple "I'm calling to strongly oppose President Trump's immigration ban" will do.
- Use your voice. Simply telling your family and friends that you stand with refugees can have a huge impact and empower others to be vocal as well.
- Be an ally to refugees, immigrants, and Muslims in your community. Get to know them. Hear their stories. Show up at solidarity events that seek to unite these communities.
- Get the whole family involved. We have had so many conversations with our girls about how we take care of others, no matter what. Just yesterday, my kids made artwork and delivered flowers to our local Islamic center, a small gesture that speaks volumes.
- Donate. The ACLU is a great organization who will need donations to keep fighting against policies like this. Continue donating to organizations who help refugees, whether here in the states or internationally.
- Don't give up. Believe me, I know the tasks ahead seem daunting. But we cannot lose hope. Any time I feel myself giving into despair, I picture the little girls I met in refugee camps and I continue on because they are so worth it. We can't do nothing.
Photograph by: Laura Remy