[Vision2020] World Refugee Day - June 20, 2018 (Quick! Somebody tell Trump.)
moscowcares at moscow.com
Wed Jun 20 05:00:44 PDT 2018
The people of Moscow, Idaho, respond (recorded at the . . . “Beyond the Ban . . . Stand With Immigrants” rally on February 4, 2017 in Moscow’s East City Park)
Courtesy of the Dallas News at:
U.S. approaches World Refugee Day amid cruel contradictions
By Nancy Kasten
All four of my grandparents fled oppression and persecution to emigrate from Russia to the United States in the early part of the 20th century. Their experience as refugees who found safe haven in this country paved the way for me to live in comfort and security as a second-generation citizen of the United States.
While the United States is the only home I have ever known, the approach we are taking to the global refugee crisis makes me feel like a stranger in the America I love.
To me, being an American means sharing our vast and plentiful resources with those who have none, and opening our arms and our hearts to the vulnerable and the oppressed, regardless of faith, race, or country of origin.
But as we approach Wednesday's World Refugee Day, it's worth noting that in the past 18 months, President Donald Trump has shown a different commitment. His administration has systematically disassembled the structures, resources and protections for refugees put into place over the past 38 years by administrations of both political parties.
At a time when the refugee count worldwide is the highest it has ever been, 22 million and rising, Washington has implemented budgetary cuts, staff cuts and onerous bureaucratic requirements. As a result, the flow of refugees to the United States has slowed to a trickle, making it unlikely that the U.S. will resettle anywhere close to the 45,000 admissions ceiling designated in September.
A family I met just a few months ago illustrates this sad state of affairs:
They arrived in December 2016 after a four-year application and vetting process. They considered themselves blessed by God — one of the lucky families who arrived before Trump's 2017 travel ban. This family came here from Iraq, and they are Muslim.
Kasim has a master's degree in geographic information systems and worked for USAID in Iraq. In excellent English, he explained to us that he and his wife, Lana, came to the U.S. for a better life for their children.
In Iraq, they feared for their kids all the time. Street violence and bombings were regular occurrences. Neighborhood children were regularly run over in the street, injured by a car bomb or drone strike, and even kidnapped by terrorists and returned in pieces in trash bags.
The family chose to live in Richardson after comparing public school rankings in North Texas. I met them as part of a group from Temple Emanu-El working through the International Rescue Commission to help refugees set up their homes. Kasim invited our group to return once his family had fully moved in so they could thank us with a meal.
I asked him if they had connected with a local mosque since their arrival. He told me no. While in Iraq they were afraid to go to the mosque because of intra-Muslim strife, in America his family chose to worship at home lest they compromise their newfound sense of security by identifying with a Muslim community.
Here we were, a group of volunteers welcoming the stranger through the bond of our faith community, being told by new immigrants that they were afraid to observe their religion openly in the United States of America.
As people of faith and as Americans we are at a crossroads. Will we lead at home and abroad with intimidation, xenophobia, aggression and greed? Or will we lead with generosity, inclusiveness and hospitality?
Our elected officials want to convince us that we can feel safe only if we seal our borders, lock our gates and build walls. This approach to security, purportedly done on my behalf, does not make me feel safer. Instead, it worries and scares me.
Kasim and Lana came to this country because they believe it is the land of opportunity — the opportunity to educate their children and the opportunity to live a meaningful life in safety and freedom. I hope they will not be disappointed.
Rabbi Nancy Kasten teaches Jewish mindfulness and participates in multifaith and Jewish education and advocacy efforts in Dallas.
“Beyond the Ban . . . Stand With Immigrants”
East City Park, Moscow (the one in Idaho) - February 4, 2017
Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .
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