I LOVE Immigrants and Refugees

blackbird

“You know, and it gets into this whole issue of border security, you know, who’s gonna say that the borders are secure? We’ve got the House and the Senate debating this issue, and it’s… it’s really astonishing that in a country founded by immigrants, “immigrant” has somehow become a bad word. So the debate rages on and we continue….”

Lin-Manuel Miranda (lyrics from “Immigrant” from “Hamilton”

I no longer watch TV news, and I can barely listen to even NPR reports about refugees without shedding a tear or two. For 24 years as an English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) teacher, I taught people from other countries. Many of them were refugees. When I hear the stories about Somalis, I am deeply saddened. I am relieved that the US court system is fighting this ban of of the seven countries, including Somalia.

About 17 years into my teaching career, I taught an elegant adult woman student who was from Somalia. She is a Muslim. She wore her head scarf to class, and she was hard working student. Unless you teach English, other than Chinese, English is one of the hardest languages to learn. It has the largest vocabulary, infinite rules, and pronunciation that is inconsistent. If you are a non-native speaker, it is a great challenge to learn. Heck, most of us Americans have our own difficulties with learning English well.

Back to my student. She came consistently to class. Even though she was pregnant. She had a daughter who was elementary age. S always asked good questions, did her work, and was a kind presence in the class. She was the only African and Somali in this particular class. In the spring of the next year, I visited her when she had her son in the hospital. She was all smiles and very cheerful.

Unfortunately, this was the last year I taught this group of students. There was a great deal of change (not for the good) in the ESL department where I was teaching. Therefore, I did not have the opportunity to see S for several years. I was very depressed after this job ended. Both emotionally and financially, I was hit hard.

At least seven years later, I got a phone call from a woman with a lovely accent and a very soothing voice. It was S. I did reading and math tutoring, too, so she was calling me to help her daughter who was in Middle School, and her son who was seven by this time. I was so happy to see S again and tutor her children in one of the local libraries. Her son had become a good reader, and her daughter was a conscientious student, who needed help in math. S was still as elegant and kind as she ever had been. Then S also recommended me to tutor her neighbor’s son, too. Therefore, when I hear Somalis vilified because of some people’s irrational fears, I feel both angry and sad. Have the people who run scared ever met a person or a family from Somalia?

The crack-down on immigrants this last weekend by ICE is more of the same vilifying of groups of people who are part of the fabric of this country. In the state of Washington, farmers are wondering who will pick their crops. This is true for many farmers across the USA. Do our grocery store shelves need to be empty of fruit and vegetables before people in Washington, D.C. wake up? Not to mention the businesses that motivated immigrants have started in this country, and the many other jobs where they have contributed so much to our economy in the USA. At one point our president’s family was from Germany. Not every immigrant today is selling drugs or a criminal. Aren’t all of us immigrants, except for the First Nations’ tribes?

As a tribute and thank you to all immigrants, here is the entire song from “HAMILTON” called “Immigrants”.

The only way I see to stop all this fear, is to cover it with love. Our immigration authorities vet the refugees who cross our borders well. For the few bad apples, our courts and immigration officials are very capable and will deport them. For me, I stopped being fearful of “the other” when I opened my heart and mind and listened to learn about to what and who I did not know well. I believe that is possible for most of us. I am going to lead with my heart and keep on loving the new immigrants and refugees on every Valentine’s Day and every day.

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I Support Refugees

Omran Daqneesh

Refugees are suffering around the world. Without taking sides about how this has happened and assigning blame, these refugees have real life threatening circumstances that we can only imagine. Often these refugees must escape where they have been living to stay alive.

My crude sketch is of the five year old boy, Omran Daquneesh, who was playing with his brother who was 10 years old in the street. Omran was found under rubble after the bombing of Aleppo. He was photographed on August 20, 2016. His brother died. Omran is the face of many people who need to leave Aleppo, Syria, but can’t. He needs to be a refugee. When we do not allow but only a few Syrian refugees into the USA, we are blocking children such as Omran.

This is the story from The Guardian. It includes a video of Omran.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/18/boy-in-the-ambulance-image-emerges-syrian-child-aleppo-rubble

When those of us who want to ban refugees from our shores and particularly Syrian ones, they are often making their decisions based on worst case scenarios and fear towards these refugees. Fear towards those we do not know has never brought good solutions, particularly when that fear are not based on facts. During the Obama administration last year, 85,000 refugees have been resettled in the USA. About 11,000 of those refugees are Syrian.

Here is a report that has good points to think about.

https://theconversation.com/a-record-65-3-million-people-were-displaced-last-year-what-does-that-number-actually-mean-61952

A few weeks ago on Facebook, I was “liking” an Alicia Keys post about her Wearing No Makeup. Underneath that post, I saw another post and watched this remarkable 11 minute video. It captured the refugee experience with so much compassion and love.

http://weareheremovement.com/letmein

Not only are them some Americans, who are unwelcoming to the current refugees in this world, here are two stories, one about Calais, France which also includes England and the other is about Australia.

From September 13, 2016 Morning Edition there are 2 stories
http://www.npr.org/programs/morning-edition/
1. “For One French Woman An Eye-Opening Visit to Calais Refugee ‘Jungle’
2. “A Refugee’s Tale: He Escaped Iran; He’s Stuck on a Pacific Island”

To me the refugee “problem” is one because we humans make it one.

It is hopeful that in the USA, it is often in the churches in various states that take up on the behalf of refugees. The church members in these churches live what they preach in action. In this case, the church and its members belong to the Nassau Presbyterian Church of Princeton, NJ. This was a story from September 14, 2016 on National Public Radio.

http://www.npr.org/programs/morning-edition/2016/09/14/493866909?showDate=2016-09-14

The Show is called: “NJ Church Group To Resettle Syrian Refugee Family with Special Needs”

It is not being “politically correct” to be kind to people who are in dire need as many refugees are. I am merely being humane. When I or we look away from what is happening in our world, I and we just become cold and heartless. I am NOT being the best I can be unless I care about others as I do myself.

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