I had a conversation today with an amazing lady who is from Serbia. She now lives here in Niagara Falls, ON Canada. During the war in 1995, their city was bombed. 200,000 people left the city within 5 days to save their lives. She lived in a refugee camp for 5 years as they went through the legal way of immigrating to Canada. She said it was extremely hard to live in the refugee camp. They didn’t even have a change of clothes. She brought nothing with her. Her sister had a two-week old baby who they feared would not survive. The baby was 5 years old when they finally left for Canada. They actually had to leave the refugee camp for awhile and live in a field because NATO was bombing the refugee camps. We talked about how neither one of us want to let terrorists into North America. We need to vet the refugees because some will try to take advantage of the situation. There are good and bad people in every country and in every religion. She couldn’t agree more with that. We also agreed that we need to have more compassion. There are people in dire situations who just need a place to live away from war.
Ironically, I had breakfast this morning with a friend of mine (Jeremy Richards) who is an immigration attorney in Buffalo, NY. (great to see you by the way my friend). We were talking about how it seems like we are being played a bit by the media which is blowing the executive orders (which went too far) out of proportion, making the situation look worse than it is. (Mind you, he is an immigration attorney and does this for a living so I think he would know.) Immigration is not an easy thing. He has been working with a guy for three years trying to get his wife and children here from Yemen. Three years!
When I was a missionary in France, I met Etienne Mwamba. He had fled Congo and was seeking asylum in France. He would be killed if sent back to Congo because he had been high up in the military before there was a government coup. But he wasn’t turned away. He stayed in France while trying to legally get residence. His apartment was mostly bare. His wife and two young daughters had also made it to France. He still had two sons back in Congo. Each one of these refugees has a story. A family. What would you want if you were in their shoes? If you’ve lost everything, you probably just want a safe place to raise your children.
I think that we need to be careful and thoughtful with immigration and the refugees. Let’s not go against our American values and take this to the extreme. We can’t turn our back and close our doors on these people. I get both sides. I can see and understand the argument on both sides. But isolationism is not the answer. I think we really need cool and reasonable heads need to prevail.
“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
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; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “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!”
(This poem is found on the Statue of Liberty)
Taken from a Facebook post I wrote on February 1, 2017