Letter to the editor: There is no reason to fear refugees and immigrants

Aren’t you afraid?
That’s what a friend messaged me after they read my postings about helping Syrians, Afghanis and Iraqis out of flimsy “life rafts” and giving them medical care after they fled across the Aegean Sea. After they fled their cities, homes, hospitals and schools that were being bombed relentlessly, and witnessed their family members being murdered in front of them.
Their question brought me up short — no, I wasn’t afraid, and it had never crossed my mind. I was anguished at what little I knew about what they were going through, I was determined to bring a message of love and welcome from my country, but never afraid. “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” Poet Warsan Shire says it so well. No one brings their children on a dangerous journey because they want to, but because they have to.
The people we helped became friends, friends who were so vastly grateful that they gave us gifts from what few possessions they had. All they wanted was a safe place for their family.
We live in a time when the rate of human migration because of climate change and other global pressures is increasing dramatically — we must address the crisis NOW, and plan forward inclusively and compassionately.
Since the April 6 Department of Justice announcement of the “Zero Tolerance Policy,” asylum seekers and others seeking refuge are met with inhumane conditions and unjust due process. The current presidential administration and its sycophantic ‘media’ partners fan the flames of separation, fear and hatred by parading false narratives that immigrants are rapists, thieves, and murderers, that they are in fact inhuman and not deserving of respect and decency, let alone a safe refuge for their families.
“In fact, immigrants in general, and undocumented immigrants in particular, commit crimes at far lower rates than native-born Americans. That includes violent crime, according to research from the Cato Institute.” (WAPO Catherine Rampell Columnist June 21, 2018)
I live on stolen ground — land of the Abenaki and other tribes of people who don’t look like me, a white woman whose ancestors came here as immigrants from England and Germany. Many who don’t look like me came before us to build this country, to shed blood sweat and tears and lost loved ones to hate and racism and still build this country. This president and his appointees were elected to lift up white supremacy. That’s exactly what these despicable policies and practices are — white supremacy flexing its ugly muscle.
It is OUR responsibility to rise up against fear and hatred, flex our muscles of democracy, love and inclusion with fierce determination to say: We will NOT allow that to be our America anymore!
Mari Cordes

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