“Give me your tired, your poor.”
We are a nation of immigrants. Most of us can trace our families back to colonial days and earlier. My own mother was a green card holder from Scotland.
Our diversity is part of what makes America the nation that it is. Our differences: the color of our skin, our political leanings, our varying religious beliefs, and the freedom to express them, are the things that make us uniquely America. And this freedom is the very thing that has the displaced flocking to our shores.
In the last 7 days, instead of being something to celebrate, this ideal of caring for the least of these, has become the proverbial line in the sand. Each side digging in, holding on to the rope of righteous indignation. There is no middle ground. We’ve taken our stand on the side of right and turned a deaf ear.
“Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Families have been ripped apart. Dreams have been dashed.
A baby needing life saving heart surgery has been denied entry and may not live until this ban has been lifted.
A Sudanese woman, who is a legal, permanent resident of the United States, was separated from her 11mo. old baby at the airport. A breastfeeding baby, a US citizen, detained, and kept from her mother for hours.
Ahmed Ali was traveling to Yemen to pick up his 12yr. old daughter who is not a citizen but has the necessary visa granting her lawful, permanent residence status, and upon entering the US, will automatically be granted US citizenship, is now stranded in East Africa. “I don’t know what to do…I can’t take her back to Yemen and I can’t leave her here by herself, she is only 12yrs. old.”
Dr. Abubaker Hassan, a second year internal medicine resident at Detroit Medical Center is separated from his family. Both he and his wife are visa holders. Their daughter, born here, is a US citizen. His wife and daughter travelled to Qatar to visit family and she is now stranded with their infant daughter. “I cannot leave to join my family, and my family, they cannot come back to join me,” Hassan, 36, said. “It’s a really difficult situation. Frankly we don’t know what to do.”
According to Unicef, children in need of emergency assistance come mainly from the countries included in the ban. Children in Syria, banned from entering the United States indefinitely, are living without clean water and are in need of medical aid. Children in Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia are starving.
“Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.”
These are the lives of refugees and their families. Stranded at airports all around the world, and at points of entry across this country, waiting for rescue. I could fill pages and pages with stories just as heart wrenching as these.
For those of us on the left side of that line in the sand, this is unacceptable. We are fighting for justice. For help for those in need. For rescue for those fleeing persecution in their home countries.
For those on the right, nationalism has dictated your stand. You’ve bought into the whole idea of make America great again. Fear demanding you keep the terrorists out in order to keep your families safe. All the while, more Americans are killed annually since 9/11 by other Americans.
As I write this, the House has voted to roll back the Obama rule on background checks for gun ownership. Again, more Americans are killed by other Americans wielding guns than by terrorists. Please don’t tell me that this Muslim/refugee ban is anything other than fear mongering along with religious and racial bigotry.
As Christians we are to care for the least of these. We are to love others as Christ has loved us. How can we say we follow Christ, when we are so willing to turn our backs on those seeking refuge among us? How do we so willingly turn a blind eye?
I don’t want to be so wrapped up in fear that I am blinded to the needs of others. That the plight of those displaced by violence and atrocity doesn’t illicit compassion and justice. I want to be continually reminded that we all are made in the image of God, regardless of the color of our skin, or the country where we were born.
Jesus goes so far as to say, if you fail to clothe, to house, to feed anyone being overlooked, you failed to do it to me. Matthew 25:35-40
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome;
“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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Emma Lazarus ~ excerpt from “The New Colossus”